South of the Slot by Jack London

Topics: Social class, Bourgeoisie, Working class Pages: 2 (593 words) Published: March 1, 2005
South of the slot, by Jack London

The slot is a metaphor of the "class cleavage of society". There was a contrast between the North and South of the Slot in terms of building types: in the North were the higher-class centers of diversion, lodging, and business; and in the South were the lower-class centers of lodging, unskilled work/business. The buildings are figures of two contrasting classes that were segregated (?). In order to study the southern people (the working class) a sociology professor of the University of CA, Freddie Drummond (FD), decides to work temporarily as an unskilled laborer. Initially he experiences social problems of adaptation and acceptance by his fellow workers. For example, he doesn't understand their insistent admonitions to reduce his work pace. As a result of his fierce competition against them, by the 6th day FD doubles his earnings. He misunderstands their lack of loyalty to the business, and looks down on them. Being unable to convince Drummond, and as a last resort, his co-workers jumped on him and attacked him so badly that he becomes ill. Once recovered, Drummond changes job. He finds himself working as a fruit-distributor among the women and decides not to change their work conditions. In six months, Drummond works at many jobs, and succeeds in imitating a genuine worker. As FD makes tentative generalizations about the working class, he is applauded by the business people, who divulge and spread his studies to the working class. FD begins crossing more often the Slot, and staying longer in the South. He acquires a dual life and personality, as he internalizes the values of the working-class. He changes his values and attitudes as easily as he changes different types of dress. Social class also shapes his relationships. He conforms to the expectations of the two contrasting classes. He adopts the typical vices and virtues of either class. His food choices, behavior toward women, and character are shaped by the two...
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