Question: What is the purpose for reading literature, specifically literature dealing with social issues, like poverty?
Answer/Quote: “The lesson of ‘The Lesson’ [Toni Cade Bambara] seems to be not just that we live in an immoral society, one in which ‘some people can spend on a toy what it would cost to feed a family of six or seven,’ as Miss Moore puts it, but that that lesson is a difficult one to communicate. People are not always ready to hear it, or they misinterpret its meaning, or, as Sylvia does, they are occasionally at a loss for what to do with their newfound knowledge. To put it another way, Sylvia, and students in a literature of poverty course, learn valuable lessons about poverty and inequality. But those lessons do not always or even often translate into deeds, let alone the right deeds.” P. 623.
Comment: Harold Bloom in The Western Canon (1994) says that “Real reading is a lonely activity and does not teach anyone to become a better citizen.” In other words, the purpose of reading literature is reflection, not action. RayS.
Title: “The Literature of Poverty, the Poverty of Literature Classes.” J Marsh. College English (July 2011), 604-627.