Sandwich Factory

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The Sandwich Factory

Factories turn human beings into machines. This is the perspective of the narrator in the short story “The Sandwich Factory” by Jason Kennedy. When mechanization is utilized to increase efficiency, factory employees become monotone working machines and individuals become just one of many - a crowd of insignificant people.

This assignment will begin with an analysis and interpretation of the short story “The Sandwich Factory” by Jason Kennedy. To put the story into perspective the assignment includes a discussion of the text, “Nice work” by David Lodge and the picture, “Relativity” by M.C. Escher. The assignment ends with a short essay about the description of Coketown in Charles Dickens’ novel “Hard Times”.

A: The short story, “The Sandwich Factory” by Jason Kennedy from 2007 is about a man who in 1994 takes a low-paid job at a sandwich factory. At the factory he experiences meaninglessness and unhappiness – giving us a picture of his life and his unsatisfying job.

The story takes place at a sandwich factory in 1994. The factory seems like a typical food factory where mechanization is utilized to increase efficiency. Therefore employees monotonously work beside conveyer belts like robots and are controlled by managers who run the factory. The managers do not treat the employees properly as the workers are rated and marked from poor to excellent supposedly by their abilities and work effort but this is hardly always the case. “Someone always has to be rated excellent; he always chooses whoever had the best legs.”[1] The employees are also locked in the factory if they are behind schedule or if there is a larger order than normal. This creates an environment where employees feel trapped and unhappy – putting pressure on them and forcing them to work long hours and faster. “There were three ways to respond to being locked in. Firstly no response, keep working at the same rate. Or start working faster so that the work would finish sooner and the doors would reopen. (...)”[2] As a reader you get a negative outlook on the factory due to the narrator’s point of view. The picture “Relativity” by M.C. Escher illustrates this type of factory. A factory with many employees that all look the same. They have no expressions on their faces and they seem to have lost their identity as a result of the monotonous and boring work at the factory.

The narrator is a 1st person narrator as he is a character in the story and refers to himself as “I”. “I brushed it off (…)”[3] There is a consistent use of this point of view and therefore we see things from the narrator’s perspective and hear his thoughts and opinions throughout the short story. The narrator could seem unreliable due to the limited knowledge and understanding of the other characters such as the other employees and managers. His descriptions of these people are subjective and therefore not necessarily true. The narrator is characterized as a man due to the fact that someone at the factory wants him to sleep with a girl and due to the way that he talks about women. He is also from a lower-class society and therefore has not got that much money. The narrator is somewhat pessimistic and clearly states his aggression and loath towards the factory and its employees and managers. This is seen in the comparison between the stinging acid from the factory tomatoes and the stinging of the narrator’s soul as well as in the descriptions of the other characters. “The acid in the tomatoes would bite into the fingers after a while making them sting, stinging the soul.”[4] The narrator sets himself aside from the other employees when he shows feelings and emotions as a contrast to be mechanized but one can still feel the unhappiness and unsatisfactory in his simple and monotone language and tone of voice. He feels that he is unfairly treated and to some extent better than the rest as he is bitter about the situation. In connection to this he has thoughts about a...
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