2 December 2008
Shame and Humiliation
Nickel and Dimed, written by Barbara Ehrenreich has been published in 2001 for the first time. This book explains and describes the condition of the working poor in United States in the 21st century. To write this book the author who is a well-known journalist at the New York Times decides to experience being a low-wage worker for a few months. She gives up her middle class life to become and live as a working poor. The author establishes a few rules at the beginning of her challenge such as not to go hungry or always having a car. But, except for those few exceptions she decides to go through the same life as her new coworkers. She starts her experience in Florida then she goes to Maine and finally to Minnesota. Therefore, Nickel and Dimed describes the experiment and the troubles Ehrenreich had to go through while she was a working poor. She particularly accentuates on how humiliated and how ashamed people are of being poor. Shame and humiliation are essential themes of this book are explained and described through different ways such as the fact that poor people are invisible or not respected in their jobs or not able to talk freely, or mistreated by their manager even if they are sick.
First of all, the author explains that the poor are invisible and how they feel about it. “Maids as an occupational group, are not visible, and when we are seen we are often sorry for it” (99). The feeling of invisibility is normally one of the worst feelings that a human being should feel. But according to Ehrenreich, the maids feel relieved when they are not seen. Other people are looking at them as stupid people. They do not fit in the society. In fact, nowadays a person who does not use their brain in their work is not respected by others or by the upper classes. Holly, Ehrenreich’s coworker and friend, describes in chapter two the mean and negative remarks people did to her when they know...
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