Professor EllisHistory 1302
Bread & Roses Book Review
“It is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.” This quote, originally in a poem written by a man named James Oppenheim, embraced a fierce social movement created by large number distraught textile workers who eventually created what we now know as the “Bread & Roses Strike”. This strike proudly showed the lengths one working under such unruly conditions would go in order to achieve respect, better working conditions, and enough food to feed their families.
The book, “Bread and Roses”, written by Bruce Watson, is a novel concerning textile workers living in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the year 1912. Potential workers flocked to the city of Lawrence to better their lives, many of which soon realized posters and advertisements beckoning them to join in and share the city’s wealth did not prove to be as true as they claimed. Bruce Watson illustrates the working conditions of textile workers during this time period and proves as a reminder that during times of struggle, you gain your rights. Effective January 1, 1912, a new law was passed reducing the numbers of hours one could work. The workers wouldn’t have had a problem with this reduction if there was no cut in pay, but there was. That seemingly small pay cut, for multiple families, proved to become a financial splinter in their lives as they struggled day after day to keep food and warmth circulating throughout their already-small homes.