"Nickel and Dimed" Summary

Topics: Nickel and Dimed, Poverty, Working poor Pages: 2 (742 words) Published: December 7, 2012
In her bestselling book, “Nickel and Dimed,” author Barbara Ehrenreich aims to give the reader a firsthand account of life as a worker on the poverty level. For her story, Ehrenreich, a writer from an upper-class family, decided to live the existence of a minimum wage worker, taking five low-level jobs at various locations around the United States, including positions as a waitress, health care aide, and Wal-Mart associate. To fulfill her objective, the author tried to obtain food, shelter and miscellaneous items solely from the money she earned in these jobs. She found out how hard it is to live when your income is somewhere in the seven to eight dollar an hour level, which is about where the poverty level currently stands. She saw how working at a low class job changed her thinking, her health, and her sense of security, as she sometimes found herself on the brink of homelessness or without adequate transportation. Her purpose in “Nickel and Dimed” is to explain her experience to her readers. She described her time as a low-class worker as “eye opening” and her outlook has also been an inspiration to others of all social classes.

Critical Response
After reading the section of Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Nickel and Dimed,” I believe that there are three good reasons for its success, and understand why it is an effective story and one which became a national best seller. First, she emphasizes the points she wishes to make by diversifying her experiences. Rather than working one low paying job, she moves from one part of the United States to another, taking on different jobs at different companies. This gave her real world experience as a working poor person, but allowed her to view the picture from different angles. She was poor in Maine and poor in Minnesota. This allowed her to meet more people and gain the knowledge of many rather than a few. This gives her a greater depth of knowledge on what it is like to be poor. Also, by not staying in one...
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