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A Sense of Self-Worth

In: English and Literature

Submitted By JTStripling
Words 508
Pages 3
Alone, without shelter, surviving on inedible remains scavenged from a restaurant disposal, would my dignity remain? I tend to think of myself in terms of worth; not monetary worth, but self-worth. Do I feel that I’ve made a difference, that I’ve held my inner strength through desperate times? Have I set myself apart from others, but done so with decorum? “The Box Man”, from Barbara Lazear Ascher’s essay, displays dignity through grace, distinction and worth, despite his lack of address. Though homeless, he projects self-respect, not caring how the rest of the world views him. First, as the bandaged, blistered legs and the dark doorway fade into the background, he shows a graceful, meticulous arrangement of belongings around his flawless setup of boxes. In her essay, Ascher describes his imaginary living room with “Six full shopping bags…distributed even[ly] on either side.” (Ascher 6) Even in his unstable environment, which most people would find distressing, he creates homely comforts. The way in which he arranges and places himself in this atmosphere states an undeniable sense of grace. I can envision The Box Man in a room with distinct lines, sensual fabrics; a different ambience altogether. Second, he takes his damaged, ragged body and lowers himself to his makeshift seat; just as a tired, distinguished business person would light upon a train bench. The author illustrates, “[The Box Man] pulled out a Daily News, and snapped it open against his cardboard table. All done with the ease of IRT Express passengers.” (Ascher 6) He shows a distinction; poise, so to speak, of a man who was used to being important. The distinction in his movements and gestures shows this even if he has never been of high stature. The Box Man doesn’t fade into the backdrop, his mannerisms set him apart. Third, The Box Man takes responsibility for his decisions and does not accept charity. Ascher comments, “Although it would appear to be a life of misery…it is of his choosing. He will ignore you if you offer an alternative.” (Ascher 7) He shows self-respect and confidence in his ability to take care of himself. Though his clothes may be torn and his body battered, his worth has not been diminished by his homelessness. He has an inner strength that quells his fears and uncertainties. In reading Barbara Lezear Ascher’s essay, I imagine sitting in that cold, dark doorway; ignoring my blistered, sore legs as I read about the world going past me. I cannot see myself assured enough to ignore the stares of passerby’s. I would not feel confident enough rest, no matter how weary, if I did not have a roof over my head and the promise of a meal. I hope to never be in that position as I do not think I carry the qualities he possesses. My grace, distinction and worth would be no match for the dignity of “The Box Man”.

Ascher, Barbara L. "The Box Man." Playing After Dark. N.p.: Harpercollins, 1987. N. pag. Print.…...

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