Grandpa’s Proverb

“In life, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or if you are poor, as long as you had money.” And he just said that whenever he felt like it, as long as it made sense in the conversation.


The informant is a mother of three, born in Chicago but a current resident of Dallas, Texas. She was the oldest of three children, and has a younger brother and sister. She attended the University of Texas at Austin in the nineteen-eighties and is now married and is an active member of the Catholic church.



This proverb is very interesting because it highlights the contentions of morality and money in America. The informant is referring to her father as the person who told her this, stating that he would just often say it whenever he wanted to, and that it stuck with her. This is because there is a contradictory element to this proverb. Many people will say that money doesn’t matter, and that it is not the source of happiness, but this proverb insists that it is necessary in life.

I believe that this brings to light the contentions of being an American. In the capitalist world, there are people who are very rich and people who are very poor. This proverb states that neither condition should matter, but that money does. This is very true, as money in a capitalist society does make life easier. However, when people usually talk about money, they like to insist that it is not a source of happiness. In a moral sense, this is very true. However, in the sense of a capitalist, money is necessary.

Therefore, this proverb is attempting to bring about a balance between two extremes. In both cases, a poor man needs money, and a rich man desires money. So, for both extremes, money is valued. That is why this proverb is highlighting the contentions of living in America. From a moral standpoint, money is not supposed to be necessary or desired, and that is what many parents try to teach their children. However, in this instance, the informant’s father is stating that money is necessary in life, and thus bringing about the balance between morality and what it is to live in a capitalist society.

In using this proverb often, the informant’s father could also be revealing what he had learned throughout his life. He could have learned to value money as an important resource due to his family life. He lived in Chicago for many years and is descended from Irish immigrants. This could have shown him the necessity of money despite its moral implications.