Study Guide

good times Poverty

By Lucille Clifton

Poverty

Mo' money, mo' problems, right? Well, not quite. When we're not sure if our rent will get paid this month, a little bit of money doesn't seem so bad. And poverty is a real problem no matter where you are. In "good times," poverty is a kind of affliction that can help one appreciate ordinary pleasures a bit more since those pleasures aren't so ordinary. At first the speaker isn't sure when those lights will come back on, but once they do, good times feel even better.

Questions About Poverty

  1. How might poverty make one appreciate good times even more? Do we always need to be poor to feel more appreciative over the little things in life?
  2. How does the poem's mood change within the first three lines? How was the speaker feeling before and after those lights came back on?
  3. Do you think a rich person would share the speaker's enthusiasm over her idea of a good time? Why or why not?Ā 
  4. Do you think hard times involving money can bring a family closer together? How so?

Chew on This

Poverty provides some perspective in "good times" when it comes to appreciating the ordinary pleasures we might take for granted.

Being rich might not be so great after all, especially when we think about "good times" and the way that tough times keep us aware of where true wealth really is.

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