Free My Turn: Somewhere for Everyone Essay Sample

Complexity of Homelessness in My Turn: Somewhere for Everyone and Stuart: A Life Backwards

Undoubtedly, homelessness is not a new phenomenon in the scope of topical and acute societal concerns. Moreover, none of the nations worldwide has managed to acquire the immunity from this problem, and it remains an important burden for the all-embracing wellbeing for all population segments. For instance, in 1998, John Grisham raised the issue of blurriness of homelessness-to-poverty lines and stereotyped misperception of the topic by the majority of the US society members. In-depth reading of My Turn: Somewhere for Everyone enables the audience to admit that policy efforts are mostly concerned with decreasing the unfavorable statistical rates and ordinary people with hiding or avoiding the disgusting nature of the phenomenon itself. David Attwood directed Stuart: A Life Backwards almost 10 years later in the UK. While the film is devoted to a real-life story of a single person, it still reflects the similar hostility which any homeless individual is likely to encounter, regardless of the country or region. Therefore, the two works highlight the complexity of homelessness that cannot be overcome due to the long-term stereotypes and misconceptions of human value systems that rule the minds of the dominant social groups.

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To start with, Grisham explicates the complicated essence of the problem from his personal experience but with a clear reference to its roots based on historical observations. This approach to explaining the issue adds the value and credibility to the authors perspective with regard to validation of his claims and demonstrates that public attitudes have not changed with time. For instance, the writer recalls his childish perceptions concerned with unawareness of homelessness as such when he moved with his family throughout the southwestern US towns and cities. The next paragraph situates the reader in the New York City context and shows how he was chased by the panhandler. In addition, the reader further discovers about the promoted fight against poverty in the 1980s when some rich Messiahs who demonstrated the world their willingness to fundraise for the sake of poor people for cover stories only. Finally, the audience appears in 1997 in the Virginia countryside where the author actually aims to explore the homelessness versus poverty correlation through engagement with poverty lawyers. Moreover, the writers view of homelessness is faceless as it is likely to swallow any person in spite of their age or gender. In this way, Grisham is successful in conveying his argument, to a great extent. First, the setting-centered linkage of the examples of homelessness to the exact places and time periods enables the audience to connect these to particular places and historical timeframes. Second, this factor emphasizes on the authors credibility with respect to advocating for the needy individuals on which he particularly focuses. Third, this writing strategy demonstrates the stillness of the society-wide mindset regarding the analyzed phenomenon, thus, its thoroughly stereotyped attitude towards homeless people.

The approach utilized by the director of the movie is a little different whereas the audience traces the protagonists life backwards, though the setting also explicitly articulates the unchanged trends and perceptions of the phenomenon in the long run. In contrast to Grisham, Attwoods viewers meet Stuart on the street as a typical homeless sitting on a piece of paper bag and smoking either cannabis or tobacco (Attwood). The next episodes show him in a meeting in the Cambridge homeless shelter and in a park where the tree with some table on it is his home (Attwood). Stuarts encounter with Alexander Masters, a social worker, is another vivid explication of the setting that clearly connects the events with the central problem and validates its depiction. In addition, the brief pictures of Stuarts rage and criminal activities, which are on the verge of normal mental perception, enable the audience to comprehend his homelessness as the long-lasting situation. Therefore, on the one hand, the motion picture articulates homelessness in a single male character, contrary to Grishams generalized facelessness. On the other hand, the film arranges the setting in a sharper and more visualized manner due to the specificity of the genre. Nevertheless, the implications of the phenomenon in question remain the same for the movie and the essay. In other words, homelessness is believed to be the problem of mad or insane potential or actual offenders that entails the little likelihood of cure but rather fatality of such a destiny for a person.


In support of his opinion, Grisham masterly utilizes the imagery that reveals the flawed and long-lived nature of the wide-scope beliefs about homelessness that guide the prejudiced behavior of the greater part of society. Primarily, the author refers to namelessness of the phenomenon itself that has become the cornerstone of blindness towards the problem in its essence along with the development of its misrepresentations within the variety of social layers. To illustrate, the initial authors appeal relates to the veiled character of the term whereas the people that represent the key target audience were called hungry or needy, or they were winos or hobos, but never homeless (Grisham, par. 1). With this statement, Grisham clearly evidences the controversy of the societys attitudes to these people where similes are used to show disgrace, disgust and misunderstanding. These literary devices allow one to develop a visual image of some unpleasant people who are subconsciously correlated with unmet needs, unlawful activities, and mere abnormality from a social standpoint. On a similar note, the word homeless entices to imagine the factor of deprivation and underprivileged conditions that would be a softening circumstance to the above negative characteristics of homelessness. However, the latter name is not used for naming the homeless people making the ideas about them initially flawed.

What is more, the elements of biased misunderstanding of the homeless stem from the policies that tend to unjustifiably criminalize them, based on Grishams rationalized imagery. For example, the author notes that, A panhandler may be charged with blocking pedestrian traffic or loitering. A wino sleeping in a park may be charged with public drunkenness. A homeless man relieves himself in an alley and hes charged with public exposure (Grisham, par. 6). These parallel similes implicitly assume the illegality of being homeless, even though it sounds absurd, illogical, unfair, and lacks the slight implication of empathy. Nevertheless, the writer specifies that policy-makers think in this way. As a consequence, the public is encouraged to think similarly. Hence, the greater part of society is misguided in their beliefs and attitudes with respect to homeless that are far away from the core of the problem.

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The same depth of the homelessness as a misinterpreted social issue derives from Stuarts story, though it cannot be read between the lines but requires thoughtful comprehension of his life events in their entirety. On the one hand, the protagonists behavior and activities demonstrate the stereotyped views on the analyzed societal problem as mentioned earlier. On the other hand, understanding homelessness from Stuarts perspective is possible only when considering the film as a whole, as a complete and well-shaped set of imageries, regardless how shocking these are. To illustrate, Stuart easily sleeps on the street during the protest, steels and drives cars without driving license, robs the empty post office, heavily beats his girlfriend, and cuts himself trying to expel the devil from within among other examples. With these visualizations, supplemented with natural audio effects, one can be astonished with the violence-focused manifestations of homelessness as these are commonly perceived by the wide public. In contrast, in-depth revelation of his individual tragedy shows the reverse side of his homelessness. This imagery incorporates his lifelong fight with inborn physical disability and the rape by his brother and his friend when he was in the acute stage of the struggle with his social stigma. In this context, the cries of rage, his insane looks, and naked body with bleeding cuts seem a blurred vision of escape from the home-like deceit and disappointment that is avoided through the homeless reality. Therefore, the complex imagery structure of the essay provides hints to understanding homelessness as the complicated phenomenon that comprises of enormous backgrounds of people who encounter its tenements. On the contrary, the film manages to exemplify a single personal tragedy as a root cause of homelessness that is in sharp contrast with society-wide beliefs and attitudes, similarly to Grishams views.


Apart from that, the writer presents a rather comprehensive overview of homelessness as a theme with multiple subthemes and components that demonstrate the shortcomings of the social value system. As Grisham aptly specifies, homelessness is a problem that is not going away as long as people squeezed by it are offered minimum-wage jobs with few hours and no benefits (par. 4). Of course, these words are generic because the range of services provided to the target audience varies and many of the programs are effective. For instance, Semuels claims that the Utah project that aimed at housing-first for homeless was successful in eliminating the population of chronically-homeless by 72% in the state during the 2005-2014 period. Nevertheless, the well-thought-out unity of the authors ideas embedded in intertwined setting and imagery are definitely thought-provoking. Grishams above phrase entices one to think deeper into the problem. To be more precise, the writer aims to encourage the public to understand that homelessness not only has many faces but also has many reasons to different people. These cannot be measured through the lens of statistical prevalence of the specified variables. The metrics should be based on the individualized moral values, such as empathy, compassion, and just a slight manifestation of attention to ones individual existence. As Grisham puts it, Everyone has to be somewhere. The problem of homelessness is not solved by removing the victims from our view. The issue borders on the brink of hopelessness (par. 8). Therefore, homelessness is not about the lack of home. The problem is about the issues in persons individual circumstances that cannot be addressed by a one-size-fits-all strategy whereas specific attributes of peoples stories are distinct. Thus, general beliefs about the problem are based on prejudices and biases.

The above point from Grishams essay is eloquently embedded in Stuarts story that implicitly defines homelessness as misinterpreted social phenomenon when the film is viewed to the end and analyzed in its entirety. One cannot understand the problem when tries to consider the episodes of the movie. On the contrary, only detailed and holistic perception of the film allows seeing the issue in-depth, with the overwhelming and simultaneously shocking complexity of the main characters life. With the masterly arranged setting and imagery techniques, the director assists the audience in reevaluating of their beliefs about poverty and homelessness. Similarly to Grisham, Attwood encourages the viewers to rethink the stereotypes and attitudes they might have had initially when meeting a homeless person in the street. While the former author draws this conclusion on the grounds of generalizations, the director strengthens this perspective by offering a real-life example of the problem: an experienced drug and substance abuser appears a person with long-term psychological trauma. This is definitely an extremely thought-provoking approach.


Based on the findings of the analysis, the two works enable the broad audience to consider the complexity of homelessness and the long-term stereotypes that undermine the essence of values linked to the problem which the majority of society follows. Both Grishams essay and Attwoods film highlight the shortcomings in the current beliefs that misinterpret homelessness and stigmatize the people in this category. Although the authors utilize different setting and imagery specificities, their discussion of the theme remains practically identical: homelessness is not a vice but a tragedy.


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