What defines a home? Some might argue that it is simply a place of residence, but the truth is, a home holds much more meaning than that of a physical building. A home is a place where you feel truly comfortable and supported by those who surround you. It is the facilitator of a healthy mental state. A question arises, then, of how health is affected by the lack of a stable home. In his book Ragged Company, Richard Wagamese discusses the topic of homelessness through the development of his characters. Amelia Onesky, Timber, Double Dick, and Digger are all self-defined “rounders”; they are chronically, and almost professionally, homeless. They have learned to survive on the streets with next to nothing. When they seek shelter during the winter at a movie theatre, they are acquainted with Granite, a retired journalist who has since abandoned writing. When the four rounders win the lottery, they, and the rest of society, thought their lives would magically improve, but what they learned was that money was only a small part of their poverty. Ragged Company challenges how readers perceive the reality of homelessness, as it suggests that a home depends less on the physical characteristic of the building but more on a sense of community and wellbeing.
A Sense of Community
A home is not limited to the walls that it contains, but extends outwards into the community. A community can be seen as somewhere where people share common morals and goals, and work together to create a society that people feel welcomed in. Each character in the book had something in common; they suffered from isolation and loneliness before meeting each other. The book focuses on the community that the rounders formed on the street, and...
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A stable home provides for healthy childhood development, lowers risk of addiction, and increases overall wellbeing. As demonstrated by the characters in Ragged Company, finding a home is not as easy as signing a lease. Sometimes people search their whole lives before finding a place that they can truly be themselves and be celebrated for it. As Dick said, “When you make it home, everything that made life difficult out there disappears. You become whole. You don’t stutter anymore, you think clearly, your body’s not old and tired. You’re healed,” (Wagamese, 2009, p.376). Material wealth only marginally improved the health of the characters in the book, while coping with mental trauma and trusting their friendship was what actually improved their lives. Even after they obtained housing, the most important home the rounders had was the one they found in each other.
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