Nickel and Dimed:

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Nickel and Dimed

In the thought provoking novel, Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores the life of low-wage workers in a capitalistic society. As a journalist, she goes undercover working minimum wage jobs and trying to survive on it. Seeing and living the lives of these poverty-stricken workers, Ehrenreich learns that hard work doesn't always lead to success and advancement in today's society.

Throughout the novel, Ehrenreich refers to the managers and bosses that run these businesses, as the culprits for suppressing the low-wage workers. As stated, "…everyone knows they have crossed over to the other side, which is, crudely put, corporate as opposed to human" (Ehrenreich, 22). She implies that once a low wage worker is promoted up to a managing position, they become inhuman. They forget how hard it was trying to come up through this system, and so the system is never reformed; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

After reading a novel such as Nickel and Dimed, the question of who is to blame often comes up. Is it an individual issue, where the person doesn't work hard enough or doesn't want it bad enough, or is it a structural issue, wherein the person can not progress due to outside powers beyond their control. I believe it has to be a structural issue if there are so many people that are in the same situation. If for instance, only a few select people are affected, then one could argue that it is their own fault, but since there is such a large amount of people affected, I believe it is structural. In support, I also believe that no reasonable person would want to live their life by those standards described in the novel. Their way of life alone, I believe, is enough to make anyone want to try to get out of it. No one chooses to live in poverty.

Overall, reading Ehrenreich's novel was an eye opening experience. It gave an inside look into the social inequality that is prevalent in today's society. In a capitalistic...
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