Yeti ornament: handmade felt

I just finished reading the  last pages of Demon Copperhead through tears. Barbara Kingsolver wrote this novel emulating Charles Dickens’s renowned David Copperfield. Dickens wrote that novel in the 1800’s to expose the mistreatment of children and the plight of the poor in England. Sadly, not much has improved since then, as Kingsolver shows the reader.

Like David, Demon is an abandoned child who survives unimaginable hardship, yet retains a loving and positive spirit. I held my breath as Demon lands in DSS Foster Care and is slung from one abusive situation to the next. He grumbles but doesn’t get bitter and shows kindness to those around him. 

Amaryllis bulbs in an art glass bowl

Through Demon, Kingsolver points the reader to the roots of deep poverty in Appalachia, showing, not telling. I identify with the teacher who moves to the area from Chicago and is constantly in trouble with the administration. He tells his students that the system is set up to provide substandard education for the poor in order to maintain the status quo. Mine owners and corporate interests do not want the locals educated, thus making it easier to control and exploit them.  Demon’s first kind DSS worker leaves the system in order to become a teacher because she will get better pay. Even Demon understands that teachers are so poorly paid, and so his Case Worker must get hardly any pay at all if she is moving up financially to become a teacher. Those people who might possibly help people out of poverty are discouraged by their piddling pay.

Baby Paper Whits for sale in special pots

Drinking and drugs are rampant, and high school football brings the whole town out, allowing residents to forget their cares momentarily. Demon is like a god when he is a football star, but still sneaks out at night to get drunk and stoned. And once he is badly injured paying ball, he is allowed to sink below the surface. Throughout the book, though, the reader routes for Demon. I  was so taken in by the book that I couldn’t read it at night before bed because I had nightmares similar to Demon’s, that he drowned or overdosed. 

Max and Papa after Thanksgiving dinner

Reading this book I was so grateful for having a roof over my head, enough food, and people who care for and look out for me. I am grateful also to Barbara Kingsolver for teaching the reader about generational poverty and letting me see hardship through the kind, forgiving eyes of Demon Copperhead.

Beautiful ornaments from Mexico. Buy one for $10 and the money will be donated to the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry