The Killing Floor: Frank Custer's Industrial Employment at a Meatpacking Plant

Topics: Meat packing industry, Meatpacking, Meat processing Pages: 2 (628 words) Published: October 8, 1999
By: Evita

The Killing Floor Frank Custer leaves his young family in rural Mississippi in pursuit of industrial employment in the northern "Promised Land" of Chicago, Illinois. Little did he know about the true extent of the journey he was about to embark on. Initially a move to secure work and improve upon the conditions which surrounded him and his family; Frank was about to change more in his life then just his economical status. Immediately upon arriving in the bustling city, Frank and his close friend Thomas gravitate towards other working class African-Americans with similar backgrounds. Unable to read or write, the two men enlist the aide of their local YMCA in finding jobs at a local meat packing plant. Frank's first encounters at the packinghouse set the tone for what is to entail. Racial tensions combined with aggressions concerning class associated positions boil just barely beneath the surface on the "killing floor." Conditions at the meatpacking plant are considerably less then favorable. The hours are long, the work is backbreaking, and the position in which he works does not pay very well. However, Frank's compensation for these conditions are his relationships with the other men whom he lives near and works around. Spending his evenings playing cards and talking with the men introduces Frank to more then just a little relaxation; issues about politics, race relations, and especially the "white man's union" dominate the colorful conversations. During this time I'm amazed at how Frank refuses to let himself get dragged into blindly believing the popular opinions in which his peers hold. He lives an honest life and pursues in finding the whole story beneath the surface of the current topics. Frank consistently demonstrates that he will not settle with "keeping his place" as is expected of him. It appears as if the people he encounters from day to day are trying to keep segregation and the "Old South" alive. His peers along with members of the...
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