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The Bean Eaters

The Bean Eaters

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Poverty Theme

Gwendolyn Brooks delves into the conditions of real people's lives, exposing the tiny details that demonstrate that their everyday routine is strained by the lack of money. Without any resources, though, the couple in "The Bean Eaters" manages to collect a room full of memories – scraps and "fringes" of all of the things which remind them of days when their lives were happier (and maybe just a little bit more well-off).

Questions About Poverty

  1. What details does Brooks give us to let her readers know that these characters are poor?
  2. Brooks doesn't tell us why her characters are living in poverty. How does this affect the way you think about them?
  3. Does this couple seem to mind that they're poor? How can you tell?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The couple does not mind being poor, because they are rich in love and in memories.

The couple does not consider themselves to be poor; they are surrounded by life's possessions and they have memories of both triumphant and abysmal times.

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