No Marshmallows, Just Term Papers
December 9th, 2008
ENG 101- SECTION 13
Nickel and Dimed
“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor… fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape” (http://www.web.worldbank.org). However, Barbara Ehrenreich did not need to escape the situation. She challenged herself to enter the lifestyle, but she did not do so whole heartedly. In her book, Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich set out as an undercover journalist in the everyday life of low-wage worker after the 1996 welfare reform. Ehrenreich established guidelines and restrictions as to how far her project would go, but her method was problematic because she started with multiple advantages and did not abide by her own rules.
Ehrenreich’s biggest advantage was the fact that she had money already put aside to begin her assignment. Unlike Ehrenreich, the lower class does not have the luxury of starting out with money to establish their accommodations. Barbara used “$1000 first month’s rent and deposit, $100 for initial groceries and cash in my pocket, $200 stuffed away for emergencies (27).” The lower class does not have the choice to start with money set aside for food and housing, or in case of an emergency. Money to spare is not an available resource in a family in of low income, whereas Ehrenreich had already planned and set aside money for back up if her assignment had started to fall short. Because of Barbara Ehrenreich’s situation she was able to start out one step ahead of the people in the low-wage lifestyle.
In addition to starting with extra money, Barbara Ehrenreich began her assignment with many other advantages. One of the most disregarded advantages Barbara had was the fact that she is...
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