Sunday, 26 February 2012

Nickel and Dimed Critique

‘I might get skewered here, but I couldn’t stand this book. The author seemed so self-righteous and was so puffy about working conditions. She was horrified that these people didn’t sit down for breaks and tried to get through their work quickly. I do remember the maid story about how someone hurt their ankle and refused to go to the doctor. What were they supposed to do? Money is money. When you are poor you need it. It’s not fair, but life isn’t necessarily fair. I have had plenty of jobs where taking a lunch break wasn’t possible, I was yelled at constantly by coworkers who thought my job wasn’t important, but work is work. You do what you have to to survive. I think it’s fine to be outraged about working conditions, but to me her outrage just came across as whining rather than righteous anger. She seemed more upset that she had to quickly dust and vacuum and do little Wal-Mart cheers than anything. By the end of the book, I just wanted her to go back to her middle to upper-middle class lifestyle and shut up. I know that’s mean, but I just didn’t find what she had to say effective. Too much whining about having to get her hands dirty and not enough actual information about the working poor.’- Carin

This is generally a negative critique on the novel and the writer (Carin) does brings up questions which are in the readers mind but some of her comments are a little harsh and undeserved.

I do agree with some aspects of this critique because she (Carin) does propose a valid argument that the book does seem to be a book on complaints in the workplace. Ehrenreich does complain about all the jobs she is working at and how unfairly she feel is treated however, by doing so she can come across as being whinny. Many people in the real world do suffer with the exact if not worse conditions Ehrenreich faces at work, but to make money and pay bills and rent you do have to do these types of jobs and not complain. The fact that she doesn’t even complete her goals and quits does make the reader question how deep she wanted to write about the working class or did she really just miss her life luxuries and leave early. She also doesn’t show a full aspect of the working poor as she gives little information about their lives but instead her main focus is about herself and her day to day tasks. Also she uses her car in the novel and she has a ‘safety net’ (money and credit card) to fall back on if things don’t go head to head. To make the reader a bit more sympathetic to her case she really should have given them up and lived properly as a working class woman.

Nonetheless, Ehrenreich has successfully managed to make the reader question working conditions today in America and has highlighted the unfairness working women face in menial jobs. The fact that she tried to see if she could make it and failed just heightens the sense and need for change. I also believe that if she hadn’t of written this book no one else would have, which makes the novel a good starting step for change. However, she could have done so much more and actually explored and gone into detail with some of the people she meets on her journey.

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