AP English Language and Composition
10 July 2013
500 Word Essay
Barbara Ehrenreich’s non-fiction bestseller, Nickel and Dimed, is the story of an essay writer who went undercover as a low wage worker to find out how non-skilled workers make ends meet. The experiment took place in Florida, Maine, and Minnesota, with the author finding a job and lodgings in each location. The experiment was to be held for one month in each location, working full time and living only off the amount of money earned in low-wage jobs. The goal was to determine whether or not the author could both live off the money earned and have enough money at the end of the month to pay the next month’s rent. The purpose of Ehrenreich’s book is simply to determine if she “could match income to expenses, as the truly poor attempt to do every day.” Working different jobs in restaurants, a hotel, a nursing home, a cleaning service, and at a major retailer Ehrenreich finds the truth – it is nearly impossible to match income and expense on wage income. Her research shows that a strong “work ethic” is often not enough to provide necessities like shelter, food, and transportation. For people who work in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and other service jobs the pay is simply not enough to work your way up the ladder of success. Barbara undertakes life as a person that earns poverty-level wages. The book is a real eye opener to what you can actually do for six to seven dollars an hour. The theme of this book is, from my view, you never realize what you have until it is gone. People all across the United States of America live without some of our "necessities" because they can't afford much more than shelter and food. Barbara shows in this book that living on minimum wage is possible, but barely. My analysis of the theme in this book is very important for people to see and understand that the group of people who earn the bare minimum wage is probably what you wouldn't suspect. Most...
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