Summary of “Homeless” by Anna Quindlen
In her essay “Homeless,” Anna Quindlen argues that Americans’ view of home has changed in the past few generations, and that we should adjust this view, as well as our perspective on homeless people. Quindlen introduces Ann, a homeless woman who shows Quindlen a picture of the house Ann once had. In this context, Quindlen asserts that a home is more than simply a house—a home is a place to which we feel connected emotionally and personally—and she emphasizes that the world’s worst problem now is homelessness. Quindlen argues that a home is more than just shelter, food, and a mailing address, which she show by explaining that she loves her own home because it is a place of comfort and security, but Quindlen also says that people lucky enough to have homes often take for granted the small and big things about our homes. Over the past few generations, the author says, our idea of home has changed from being a place where we and our parents, grandparents, and children would live to a being place we temporarily pause at before moving on to the next place. Because we have become transitory, Quindlen argues that our connection to home has weakened and that we have lost a sense of pride about our homes. Homeless people illuminate this problem, which Quindlen explains by giving reasons why many homeless people refuse to go to shelters. In the end, Quindlen stresses that we should view homelessness differently—as a collection of people with no homes instead of an abstract and impersonal “issue” plaguing society. By looking at it this way, Quindlen concludes, we can better understand how important having a home truly is.
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