The Working Poor Shipler Analysis Essay

Introduction

In his book, The Working Poor, David Shipler introduces readers to the culture of those he calls “invisible” Americans. He describes these people as the struggling poor who work to provide a comfortable lifestyle to the same people that are unaware of their plight. In the chapter entitled, “Sins of the Fathers,” readers meet Wendy Waxler. She is a single mother struggling to provide for her young daughter who has cerebral palsy. Commenting on her fighting against abuse and poverty, Wendy declares,
I feel that everyone has their mishaps, everybody has their setbacks or whatever. It will take a real strong person to overcome those…by seeing me overcoming mine, I’m hoping that’ll influence her [Wendy’s daughter] to overcome…

During her stay in this second foster home, Wendy recalls ongoing sexual abuse. She describes what happened to her this way: “These boys used to take me and Paula in the basement, pull down our panties, and do.” In her interview, she cannot complete the description. She cannot voice the actual sexual abuse indicating another sign that she has not processed the events in her past. She jumps over the details and continues saying, “Stuff like that you never forget, I don’t care how old you get. You never forget. Until the day you die, you never forget” (Shipler, 2005, 146). Her inability to forget is another symptom of trauma (PTSD), because her memories are caught in a circular causality or a repeating loop. Symptoms of Wendy’s sexual abuse will continue to manifest in a series of unhealthy relationships throughout her life.
Personal boundaries in Wendy’s second foster home did not existent. The foster mother let her teenage sons run “loose and free,” and Wendy describes it. The two young girls were not protected. The family system’s boundaries, however, are permeable because Wendy was able to access outside support; her adoptive mother “rescued her” from the system. Her adoption becomes the second order change needed for Wendy to escape the cycle of sexual abuse in her second foster…