ENGL 111 Final Essay

The 2008 Crisis, also known as the 2008 Housing Crisis, was an event that not only hurt the United States economy, but the other countries connected as well. This resulted in a Global Financial Crisis, causing the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer. The crisis was caused by carelessness practices in the US Government and on Wall Street, and were all preventable. We learned about the events leading to the 2008 Crisis through Inside Job, the documentary going into detail of what happened in the decades leading to and proceeding the bubble popping through interviews with US Government officials of the time, and many people from who caused the crisis all together through their actions. We also learned about events before and after the crisis in the book The Big Short, which did the same thing as Inside Job but went more in depth about how many people on Wall Street had no clue what they had been doing by creating all these agreements to loan money despite having no way to return the money. Wall Street had known this was a terrible idea for these people but had no idea the long term effects and financial consequences. We see these consequences in both the novel The Turner House and the short documentary, The Old Man and the Storm. Both the novel and documentary follows families who each have families being affected by the crisis, and not being affected at all. In The Old Man and the Storm, an old man of New Orleans, was impacted by Hurricane Katrina. He wants to save his family’s home and community by staying even though everyone else moved away, to rebuild. Only problem was that the bubble had only burst a year prior. This now left Herbert Gettridge, at almost eighty-five years old, to work to be able to afford his build, and building alone to try and make his home liveable with no power and no one else really rebuilding their homes. Everyone else just kind of gave up after the money the government promised never came. The novel The Turner House follows a large family, just like Mr. Gettridge had, and in the wake of the 2008 crisis, they must decide whether or not to sell their childhood home when their mom falls too sick and weak to take care of herself anymore. Also like Mr. Gettridge, their family ranges from really being affected by the crisis to not really making a difference to some. These sources gave us knowledge we did not have prior to the class as we were so young when the crisis began and many followed themes that the crisis followed as well. 

The last novel we read really helped understand how a financial crisis can impact the world. In Parable of the Sower, written by Octavia Butler, the novel follows a young girl in the years 2024 through 2027 who lives in a time where many people are struggling financially and most are homeless. Financial ruin causes people to turn to violence and stealing to be able to provide food and money for themselves and family. This causes many families to move to villages with walls around them to keep the violence, drugs, and animals out.  Things like food, water, amd money are hard to come by, so Laurens father keeps a job at a college and keeps his neighborhood safe in his free time. In the neighborhood, it begins with small things going missing, but all hell breaks loose after a bullet from beyond the wall hits a child through the gate. Shortly after, Laurens father disappears and people from beyond the wall who use a drug to make setting fire feel good, destroys their homes and kills many of the people from the culdesac, including the rest of Laurens family. She flees with two other survivors heading north, for Canada, to escape the mess of America. Along the way her and her group meet many other people, including Bankhole, her older boyfriend, who is heading for his sisters farmland in California. Lauren reluctantly agreed to join and they find the house torched, but she decides its the perfect place to start a new society with her new family. This novel is like many of the other resources we’ve used to learn about the 2008 Financial Crisis. For example, this story had many characters, especially after they left Robledo. After leaving we meet many people also seeking refuge from the situation in the US. We also saw many characters in The Big Short, Inside Job and in The Turner House. We also see the characters facing a crisis, like Mr.Gettridge in The Old Man and the Storm, where his world is in shambles, and he cannot afford to or find a way to fix and rebuild their neighborhood. We also see many being expelled, expulsion is a theme throughout every text and documentary we’ve used this semester, from King Lear  to A Mercy. Many of the themes from sources used this semester have helped us understand the 2008 crisis better. 

There are many themes in both Parable of the Sower that many faced in the 2008 crisis. One example is that the world in the novel had many of the same problems, such as high prices on gas, bread, and water. In the beginning of the novel, Lauren talks about the prices of groceries being so high, they make bread from acorns and they catch rain water to recycle instead of buying clean water. I know from both The Turner House and from talking with my parents after watching Inside Job that the prices on foods and other goods went up, this included a spike in gas prices as my dad had told me, and housing, that Lelah from The Turner House taught me. She just jumped from place to place to have somewhere to stay as she could not actually afford to live there with no job and a gambling addiction. Which also brings me to my next point, that in Parable of the Sower and The Turner House, there were themes of addiction. In Parable of the Sower, it was to drugs that would cause violence, such as the one that makes fire better than sex, or the one Laurens mother used while she was pregnant that gave Lauren too much empathy, causing her to physically feel other peoples pain. Another example of addiction and gamling was seen in Inside Job, The Big Short, and throughout the crisis in 2008. Many of the men on Wall Street used drugs, such as cocaine, and then gambled with people’s money and homes, mostly causing the people with less, to really end up with less. Like in The Turner House, many ended up homeless. Homelessness and expulsion from one’s home is another connection between all the sources from this class. In Parable of the Sower, the poor are forced onto the streets and turn to violence to be able to get goods. In 2008, many people were homeless and forced to either live in a car, like Lelah in The Turner House, or forced into tent camps as we saw in The Old Man and the Storm. Expulsion was a theme seen repeatedly throughout all of our resources, and throughout the crisis. This theme ranges from novels like Parable of the Sower, written in 1994, way before the bubble burst in the crisis, but this theme is seen over and over throughout history, it was also a theme in King Lear written in around 1605, according to the Royal Shakespeare Company website. Expulsion was a theme easily predicted to happen once again, as it happened forever. In this course, we learned not only about what happened in 2008 and how it was preventable and just a result of negligence, but also the themes such as expulsion and bubbling. And we see these things happening in 1605, all the way until now, possibly facing another financial crisis caused by the pandemic. The concept of GLOBE’s statement that students are gaining practice to “reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time”, can be seen through the course. We learned about expulsion in King Lear and how it affected them in a pre-christan british society, we learned how expulsion affected Florens in A Mercy in the 17th century when she was given up by her mother as part of a trade. We see how this theme stays present throughout the course and how it has affected each time period, even with Parable of the Sower being set in the future. We can use our sources of information to learn from the 2008 crisis, and try to prevent that from happening, by using GLOBE’s goal of reflection to learn from past mistakes for a better future. 

This class has taught me so much about not only the 2008 housing crisis and the key concepts and themes seen throughout, but about collaboration and the importance of slowing down and dissecting. Maybe if the people of Wall Street took this course, they would have slowed down to understand that their actions had serious consequences. If they would have cared or not since it benefited them, is another topic, but they truly had no clue what they were doing, but they not only gambled with the economy but the wealth of the people, which caused distrust in the government, banks, loans, and Wall Street in general.

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