the richer the poorer summary

“The Richer, the Poorer”, written by Dorothy West is the story of two women, and the way they viewed money and how it affected their life. Lottie was the wise sister who had always been conscious of the money troubles her family suffered and this made her determined to have enough money to be able to afford whatever she wanted. She worked hard and saved every penny she earned. Her sister Bess, on the other hand, enjoyed every day and never had a care in the world, blissfully ignorant of the troubles her family went through. Bess married a poor musician and traveled with him, always poor, but she was happy.

Lottie never married, instead she scrimped and saved, never indulging and living a very lonely life. By the time Lottie was sixty she had saved and had been forced into retirement by her boss’ son. Bess’ husband died, while they were in Europe, leaving her nothing; not even the fare home. Lottie realized it was her duty to take her sister into her home, but she did not relish it. Why should Bess be able to receive the pleasures that Lottie had worked all of her life to achieve, when Bess had done nothing but live a pleasure filled life?

With Bess’ return, Lottie decided to fix her house that had become dilapidated and found joy in this new sense of purpose. Bess arrived and helped Lottie to discover a new philosophy of life and to bring joy to Lottie’s life. Bess helped Lottie to see the joy in living and to realize money cannot bring joy. Lottie summed up her life in these words, “a life never lived”. Bess told her at their age it is the days that matter and that she was too old to waste time feeling sorry for herself. She should enjoy life while she still had it.

By the end of the story, Lottie was determined to enjoy her life. She was willing to try to see the joy in life and had discovered the best days of her life had gone by without her having spent any of the money she had saved. She understood she had felt sorry for Bess because of her poor life, when really she should have felt sorry for herself. She realized Bess had used the years of her life, while she had saved money for them and it was Bess who had chosen the better way of life; enjoying every minute instead of worrying about tomorrow.

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