Comparative Analysis of the Essays ‘On Compassion’ and ‘Homeless’

In both, the essays the make an attempt to rationalize various human reactions towards some of the social issues such as homelessness and poverty and the sort of emotions these issues invoke in an individual. Although the two compositions deal with two different subjects yet the implicit message that is conveyed to the reader is the same. Moreover the style of depiction and the manner in which both the plot’s progress also have some similarities.

Quindlen in her essay focuses on the different interpretations of human beings regarding being homeless and she stresses the fact that this one word reflects a very bitter reality of human existence i.e. feeling of alienation. On the contrary, Ascher presents the readers with her personal interpretation of compassion. However, regardless of the differences in the subject matter of these essays, both authors highlight the reality that now human beings live a selfish existence where their actions are devoid of sentiments. In Quindlen’s essay she extensively talks about the deteriorating state of the family as she says, “Yet it is something that we have been edging away from gradually during my lifetime and the lifetimes of my parents and grandparents”. This explains that the relationships and the family system have more or less vanished. Also, the reason for this deterioration can be because of the selfishness that has engulfed every individual’s mind and soul. Then again in Ascher’s essay, she questions the reasons that motivate the mother, the mayor and the owner of the café for doing deeds of kindness. As it is mentioned in the text, “We do not wish to be reminded of the tentative state of our own well-being and sanity. And so, the troublesome presence is removed from the awareness of the electorate”. Hence according to the author’s understanding of human behavior, every action of kindness is motivated by some sort of selfishness as every individual has an ulterior motive since she believes that goodness is not an inherent trait anymore.

Both the texts begin with the introduction of two individuals as observed that in Homeless it is states, “Her name was Ann, and we met in the Port Authority Bus Terminal”. Also, the essay on Compassion also begins with the introduction of an anonymous man in a “buttonless shirt, with one sleeve missing, hanging outside the waist of his baggy trousers”. Moreover, the authors utilize the technique of third-person narration in their essays.

Hence both the writers in their individual unique styles of writing enlighten the reader about the decaying condition of human beings because according to their perception of human behavior man is transforming into a robot that has a mechanical existence since the spirit of humanity is diminishing.