We see from this story that the Johnston’s are a very poor family who are suffering from poverty. With Mrs. Johnston being the sole provider for the family it makes it even tougher for her and the family as a whole to cope, especially as she has a lot of children.
Although they are poor, the Johnston’s seem to cope okay, but only just, and here are many examples throughout the story that suggest this. A prime example of this is how Mrs. Johnston always orders items from a catalogue and promises her children, even though there is no money to ever pay for them. She does this so that her children can have a little bit of happiness in their lives until the items they have received are taken away and repossessed by the catalogue. Although this happens almost all the time for the Johnston’s the children still feel neglected because all the children in their school and around them have all the things they want, and all the things the Johnston kids wish they had and can only dream about. Mrs. Johnston also promises lots of things to them and always tries to console them and reassure them, things like telling them that she had a new, better paid, more luxurious job, which straight away makes her kids feel like everything is going to change and that they will now start getting the things that they always wanted, and not be poor anymore, but this isn’t the case, even though she allows them to think it, we see this in the story when the children ask for, “Mummy, can we have ham…” “…And Spam…” “ And Mummy can we have jam, please Mummy…” But these things never really arrive, as she hasn’t actually got any money, even if she did get a new job, because of all the bills and debts that there are to pay. This is another prime example of how poverty has affected their family.
These are all short-term problems because the children are getting older and they will soon be out working and helping with the financial situation, but the fact that she has to go through every thing on her own was the fault of her husband, who ran out on the family. But before he left the family, Mrs. Johnston got pregnant again. As they already have lots of kids and are really unable to support them all, social services have been watching the family and have warned Mrs. Johnston that she will lose them and see them taken into care if things don’t change, so the fact that she has another child on the way will not help matters.
As Mrs. Johnston was at work, as a cleaner for a rich couple, the Lyons, she mentions her troubles to Mrs. Lyons, she, however has quiet the opposite problem as she has lots of money, but cannot have children. As Mrs. Johnston learns that she is expecting twins, Mrs. Lyons thinks up a plan that she says will make them both extremely happy and better off for it. She says to Mrs. Johnston that she could sell her one of the twins and nobody would ever find out, and as Mrs. Lyons knows the situation of Mrs. Johnston she tries to sway her decision by telling her that she could see the twin everyday and that the only difference would be that the baby has a different name. And because of Mrs. Johnston’s financial mess, and also the fact that Mrs. Lyons has persuaded her to, she gives in and agrees to give her one of the twins. Little does she know that after a few weeks, and when Mrs. Lyons husband returns from a 9-month trip around the world, that she will be sacked and never get the chance to see her baby again.
These as well as some of the other things that I have mentioned are the reasons that the Johnston family are affected by Poverty and that they are practically living their lives in it. It not only financially affects them but mentally, as it compromises Mrs. Johnston’s decisions, eventually making her give up one of her own children, effectively just so she can pay the bills, which is truly unthinkable.