Study Guide

A Little Princess Poverty

By Frances Hodgson Burnett

Poverty

Chapter 7
Miss Minchin

"You are a beggar," said Miss Minchin, her temper rising at the recollection of what all this meant. "It appears that you have no relations and no home, and no one to take care of you." (7.166)

Miss Minchin really knows how to soften the blow of delivering the news of a child's father's death, doesn't she?

Chapter 8
Sara Crewe

"If I do not remind myself of the things I have learned, perhaps I may forget them," she said to herself. "I am almost a scullery maid, and if I am a scullery maid who knows nothing, I shall be like poor Becky." (8.13)

Sara has to keep her mind "rich" in order to avoid succumbing to general poverty. So, we guess you could say that she's never fully impoverished. Just mostly impoverished. Hey, it's something!

Chapter 10

"Here, poor little girl," he said. "Here is a sixpence. I will give it to you." (10.7)

It's a pretty sad day when you're referred to simply as "poor girl." This is a good example of how poverty can strip people of their individuality. (When was the last time you learned a homeless person's name?)

One of these nights, when she came up to the attic cold and hungry, with a tempest raging in her young breast, Emily's stare seemed so vacant… (10.29)

When she's poor, it's as though even Emily has abandoned Sara. Gee, maybe you shouldn't rely on dolls for your only friends?

Chapter 12
Mr. Carrisford

"I MUST find her. If she is alive, she is somewhere. If she is friendless and penniless, it is through my fault…" (12.33)

Mr. Carrisford is all broken up inside with guilt because he thinks it's his fault that Sara is somewhere out there with no money whatsoever. And, well, it kind of is. But we still think Miss Minchin deserves the most blame.

Chapter 13

The child got up and shuffled in. to be invited into a warm place full of bread seemed an incredible thing. She did not know what was going to happen. She did not care, even. (13.81)

It's true—there could always be someone poorer than you. This is something that Sara definitely learns. (Although we'd hate to know what someone poorer than this beggar looks like.)

She knew she need not hesitate to use the little piece of money. It had evidently been lying in he mud for some time, and its owner was completely lost in the stream of passing people who crowded and jostled each other all day long. (13.18)

Sara is so poor that even the sight of a dropped fourpenny piece makes her elated. To be honest, we love finding change in the street, too.

…Sara was sent out again and again, until her shabby clothes were damp through. The absurd old feathers on her forlorn hat were more draggled and absurd than ever… (13.10)

Poor Sara has to give up all of her nice clothes and wear her silly, worn-out ones instead. Although, why? What's Miss Minchin going to do—sell the old clothes? Let some other girl wear them? This just seems spiteful to us.

Chapter 14
Mr. Carrisford

"What a bed for a child to sleep in—and in a house which calls itself respectable!" (14.18)

Mr. Carrisford's staff is totally appalled at Miss Minchin's treatment of Sara, and with good reason too.

Chapter 15

"Yes," she said in a new passionate way. "Yes, I am. I'm so hungry now that I could almost eat you. And it makes it worse to hear poor Becky. She's hungrier than I am." (15.101)

Sara and Becky are poor girls-in-arms together. They should form a club! Well, except it would be the most depressing club ever.

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