Wednesday, September 09, 2009

English 11 Honors- Post due Thursday

As we begin to wrap up our discussion of Nickle and Dimed, please use this forum to comment about ideas that you were unable to share in class or any concluding thoughts. Please reference particular page numbers in the novel where appropriate. DUE THURSDAY!!!


  1. I posted this on another section too, but I just noticed that this blog entry showed up.

    I know that question 6 is not totally about The American Dream, but I'd just like to follow up on today. At this time, our country is not in good shape and I believe that part of our problem is that it isn't quite possible for everyone to live their American Dream. Has it or will it ever be possible is a good question, but the fact still remains that unlike other countries, we in America can work as hard as we want to achieve that dream. This is a rather corny example, but I have a feeling that if Obama ever said that he was going to be President of the United States when he was a child no one would have believed him. Not only because of his race, but because he came from a home with a single mother and not a lot of money. He worked hard though and now he is the President. We have a problem in our country, that the minimum wage is not enough money to live in the country. People will most often look at the poor and just think to themselves, "Why don't they get a job?" What these people don't realize is that in most cases these people have jobs, but the money they make is not enough to cover living expenses. Either minimum wage has to go up or living prices have to go down. Currently these prices are moving in a direction against what is good for the poor and middle class. Every single family should have the right to not worry about where their next meal is going to come from. I thought that Barbara Ehrenreich did a great job of bringing these problems to light.

    Ryan B. Period 5

  2. The only thing that I didn't say during the class discussion is in reference to question four. In class, Jeff made a point that historically, jobs held by women usually involved a lower pay, which is accurate. What I don't agree with is the idea that this is the reason that many of the people that the author interacted with were women. If you look at the type of jobs held by the poor, most men hold jobs that involve menial and physical labor. The jobs that Barbara Ehreneich held were not jobs that involved much physical labor, which I believe is the reason that we don't see many men in the book.

    Matt M. Period 3

  3. I agree with Ryan’s comment that, “it isn't quite possible for everyone to live their American Dream”. I think that hard work is essential for the attainment of one’s goals, whether they be to support a family or to succeed in a particular field. However, I also feel that hard work alone will not always result in success. Barbara Ehrenreich provided many examples of individuals working relentlessly, and still remaining incapable of fully providing for themselves or their family. Such people cannot be labeled as “lazy” or always “in control of their own destinies”. I feel that people belonging to upper classes often fail to realize how little power others have over some of the hardships they face. Though it would be unfair to say that people’s choices have no hand in their lifestyle, it would be equally unreasonable to blame those in poverty for their living conditions. The vicious cycle described in Nickel and Dimed, in which it is somewhat impossible for minimum-wage workers to use money-saving techniques triggers a wave of understanding in the mind of the reader. Though the book did not provide a thorough insight into the lives and more importantly emotions that minimum-wage workers struggle with, it was highly informative in reporting straightforward facts and figures.

    I also wanted to comment on the distinct division between the managers and the workers in the book. The former was often unsympathetic and uncompassionate, while the latter seldom portrayed such heartless qualities. This theme was also evident in The Grapes of Wrath; the landowners were depicted as cold-hearted individuals who were only concerned with gaining a profit, while the poor, though in a greater need, were more willing to share and show kindness towards others. One of the downfalls of a capitalist economy is the robotic and inhumane roles some people adopt. When the focus within a society is transfixed on money, there is a severe decline in benevolent decision-making. For example, on page 22 of Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich comments on the role of managers in a business, “ you start dragging out each little chore because if the manager on duty catches you in an idle moment he will give you something far nastier to do”. Later on in the book when Ehrenreich is working in Maine she overhears that the maid company charges 25 dollars per hour, but the employees only earn $6.65. The company’s voracious greed is unnerving and iniquitous. The abundant kindness found among workers, however, is extremely touching. A particularly moving scene in Nickel and Dimed takes place on page 163, when Melissa brings Barbara lunch, leaving her “overwhelmed to discover a covert stream of generosity running counter to dominant corporate miserliness”.

    Another observation I made while reading was the use of escapism by those struggling with harsh conditions. The book comments on the extensive use of cigarette to “compensate [for the pain]”. Often times, individuals resort to alcohol or cigarettes in an attempt to alleviate the sorrows they face. Though clearly an unhealthy method, it is understandable that these people would wish to find a means to lessen the effects of hardship.

    Period 5

  4. I think that through out the story the author Barbara Ehrenreich, tried to get a sense of what it would be like to live and work like the working class. In the story she points out that it isn't really possible for people to be able to live the American Dream, and she had been coming from the American Dream lifestyle. Throughout the story she is going back to her "old life" and getting money that she has saved up for emergencies. In real life people don't have that choice, and people truly have to find some ways to get by. As the story progresses the author's tone becomes more harsh, and she begins to regret what she has done.

  5. I think that through out the story the author Barbara Ehrenreich, tried to get a sense of what it would be like to live and work like the working class. In the story she points out that it isn't really possible for people to be able to live the American Dream, and she had been coming from the American Dream lifestyle. Throughout the story she is going back to her "old life" and getting money that she has saved up for emergencies. In real life people don't have that choice, and people truly have to find some ways to get by. As the story progresses the author's tone becomes more harsh, and she begins to regret what she has done.


  6. I give Barbara alot of credit for what she has done. I don't think i would be able to put my real life on hold and start a new one working for minimum wage. Barbara's idea of doing this shows that she really does care for the working poor. Barbara does have alot of advantages over the actual poor people. She knows that at any given time she can't eat a meal, she can take out her credit card and buy food. The actual poor people don't think that way. If they don't make enough money that day, they aren't eating dinner that night. Also, Barbara is just taking care of herself. She does not have to worry about her children. Unlike many other people who have to support their children as well as themselves. Barabara is a very outspoken person and says exactly what she feels. Sometimes this can be a bad thing. I don't agree with everything she says. For example, when she was talking about the people who work at WalMart and how their hair is parted in the middle and making fun of certain people, I don't think it is necessary to say those things. I liked how Barbara told about other characters' stories. Those stories are real situations from people who are truly poor. I understand at some points in the book it is boring, but that's what these types of books are. This book is a story of someone's life, Barbara is just telling her story the way it is. If some parts were boring there is nothing you can do, that's how her life was at that point in time. I thought is was interesting to hear someone's story about creating a new life and working hard for very little money. In addition, it was different listening to a bunch of people who are just barely getting by in life. This book can teach many of us lessons. This book taught me to work hard, be educated and to never give up. The poor people kept working hard and never giving up when they were getting paid minimum wage. This book taught me alot.

    Nicole C.
    Period 3

  7. I felt that the class discussion was a little unorganized today. Also, we did not stay on topic very often. However, some important points were brought up. Certain things that I agree with that were mentioned are the fact that minimum wage cannot support a family and that the American Dream can be interpreted as many different things. Some of our class members with jobs said that they could not imagine living off of their minimum wage jobs, or even their slightly higher pay jobs.
    The American Dream can be interpreted many ways. Many people coming to this country had many different promises, freedoms, and hopes for America. In relation to when Barbara Ehnrenreich mentioned the "starting conditions" of a lower class person, I feel that, depending on what freedoms, privileges, and advantages that are given to a person, the American Dream represents what freedoms they want or previously did not have. This may have the factor of money in it or it may not. It may be as simple as what Jerry Gargano brought up during class. Simply having a family, being happy, and getting by.
    --Grace H. Period 5

  8. Okay I get it, some people didn’t like the book. She could have done this or that or yata yata yata. Yet if you read the last chapter evaluation she does admits these faults herself. She realizes she could have changed her way but I mean packing up and moving away from your home, life, son, and “boyfriend/husband” probably can make you a little stressed and might cloud your judgment. None the less, like her don’t like her, it doesn’t really matter, and this book had a purpose. Like the guy who wrote Fahrenheit 911( I think) or Sicko people didn’t really like him or what he did yet he had a point. To open the eyes of the people who are being blinded by the fake smiles.
    There is this big unseen world out there where people are barely making it buy, and why? They work hard doing jobs people stick there nose at. She told us the stories of her coworkers, having to keep that smile through her boyfriend being arrested (17). Take for example the person living in a car taking showers at a friend’s house. The most disturbing thing possibly was the pregnant woman who kept going 1, after she knew she was pregnant and 2, after she possibly broke her ankle. Did you not feel sorry for these people, feel the need for change?! If you didn’t then you need to do some hard labor, because this is wrong. What America is doing is wrong. Being poor or working at low wage jobs is NOT sustainable, “the lunch:…of Doritos and hot dog rolls….the “home” that is a car or a van…illness or injury that must be “worked through”( 214). None of that is right. No one should have to endure that when there are options available. I don’t know if many people read them but the little references at the bottom of the page are what is happening everywhere, there are laws and rules allowing things like this happen. She really talks about it a lot in the Evaluation, saying how they try and buy people off with the “free breakfast” or “mother hours” anything other than raise the pay. Like the book or not OPEN YOUR EYES THIS ISNT WORKING! :}

    -Christina p3

  9. Well, in our classes talking about Nickel and Dimed, I think our class might of lost sight of the original purpose of this book. This book was suppose to be an awakening or a “eye-opening” book that made you perceive the lower class in much a different way and to show how the real life of the lower class is lived. I don’t believe that she was trying to impersonate a lower class person; I think that she was just trying to enter their lifestyle to try and capture their feelings and to get useful information to demonstrate to the American public that our country needs a change. So, even if you hated her writing style and think she was a “racist”, you have to understand that that isn’t the purpose of the book. The book had very good thoughts and ideas that can be taken from it; just everyone seems to dwell on the negatives of her writing style. Also, the American Dream is a great topic for debate in out class. I just think that again, people think too narrowly on this topic as well. The American dream to mostly everyone in our class seemed to be about making lots of money and becoming rich. But I think the American dream, is just doing whatever makes you happy in life. If making lots of money makes you happy, then go right ahead and make it your dream. But I think there are more non superficial things that could make you happy, like having a family, being healthy you whole life, going out and experience new things. In addition, a point was brought up that it seems that the lower class works harder than the middle and upper class. And I totally, 100% disagree because “hard work” can mean anything to a whole bunch of different people. I think that the lower class may due more physical labor, but to try and work a high class job also had its difficulties. In conclusion, Barbra Ehrenreich was a trail blazer for showing the life of the lower class and her book has many valuable ideas that you can take and learn from.

    Jonathan P.5

  10. I agreed with a lot of what was said in class today...

    I actually did like the book a lot but also agree with the critisms of many of the other students. It made me frustrated when Barbara dipped into to her resources so at each even she deemed a 'failure' when many people actually have to live this life every day. She came into it after living a privleged life, so of course it came as a mindblowing, terrible thing. But the people who live it are mpore used to it. They deal with what they're given and move on, making them much less pessimistic then Barbara Enrenrich was during the book.

    The 'womans work' aspect of it is interesting too because in many, many of these jobs she held had a lot of women working under men. Its interesting to see that, although there are just as many poor men, there are specific catogorys people decide as 'womens work', and many often involve lower pay and treatment.

    One thing I wanted to bring up in class is how unhealthy many of these peoples lives are. Overall, money does not equal happiness, that is true. And there are many many happy people who aren't wealthy. However, I believe that being poor is especially unfortuante for medical reasons. There are many instances of this is the book: the arthritis many of the maids had, the girl who worked while being pregnant and had a broken ankle, and just in general how the people under the poverty line had to eat foods that are terrible for nutrition (not to mention the constant smoking for relaxation purposes). This leads to sickness and the people who can't afford to pay don't get good (or any) treatment. That really did strike me as upsetting about the book. Its a vicious cycle for the people struggling with earning money.

    Siena; period 3.

  11. I didn’t get to bring up this point in class but i believe it is an important one. As a read this book I learned that many of the people working at low class jobs aren't able to live in the moment. A quote on page 35 says,” you get into a mode, you know, because everything has to move so fast." They are always worrying about what is to come next instead of what is happening in the now. Living in the moment is not easy for these people since they have so many worries. One worry is, not knowing if there is enough food for the family or if there is a place for them to sleep that night. Another worry is if they owe any money. Their most important worry is their job, because with out that they have their entire life to worry about. I feel terrible for these people because they are just letting life pass them by.

    Maria p.5

  12. During our class today, we seemed to get really off topic with the question involving "the American dream". People began to argue on how the American dreamed couldn't be possible in reality but the American dream is just a thought or a certain vision in life. Its something that we all strive to achieve. Whatever you may want to reach, the dream really depends on your own personal ideals. Personally, i believe the American Dream is reaching a happy life with opportunities you may not had before. American is extremely different than any other country and our countries opportunities may be more or less than where a certain person could be coming from. America is all about opportunities and people should be able to pursue whatever they may, because that's just what America is thought to be as.

    Nikin period 5

  13. I agree with Jon, in that our class has spent way to long debating the way the author chose to write Nickel and Dimed, as opposed to discussing what she has showed us from her experiment. yes, I do think her experiment had flaws, however, being the first person to try something of this nature, I think that she executed it very well.

    In regards to our class discussion today, I think Alex had a very good point when he spoke about how parents want their children to succeed. I agree that, while every parent wants the best for their children, that does not always mean that a parent wants their child to out perform him or her, rather, it simply means that they want their child to be happy, safe, and able to do what that child wants to do.

    Kevin, Per. 5

  14. I still don't know how I feel about the book, It did open my eyes to the real world, and the difficulty of getting by, but i feel Miss Ehrenreich went about it in the wrong way, she set herself up for failure, I feel that she even went into it knowing she wasn't going to make it. I think that's why she kept an emergency fund, instead of making the necessary cuts, like the Advil she was paying 30 dollars for, so she could have the "designer labels" as opposed to the less expensive kinds. Also she really didn't let herself go hungry, I can understand how a person would prefer to not go without food, but for her to fully understand how people really living like this feel most of their lives, she shouldn't have dipped into her funds. Although she was supposed to actually feel how people working minimum wage jobs feel, I think she got her point across that she it is impossible to live off minimum wage.

    Paul per.3

  15. Those of you that have commented so far have done an amazing job. I agree that we may have lost sight (I'm as much to blame) about the purpose of reading this text: to examine how hard it is for so many working Americans to get by. John did a great job bringing us back to reality, "I don’t believe that she was trying to impersonate a lower class person; I think that she was just trying to enter their lifestyle to try and capture their feelings and to get useful information to demonstrate to the American public that our country needs a change. So, even if you hated her writing style and think she was a “racist”, you have to understand that that isn’t the purpose of the book." I agree that B.E. did bring these problems to light, and therefore this work is an important one, Delaram's point about the unhealthy means of "escapism" that so many of the low-wage workers resorted to is a sad reality. Siena also echoed concerns about health. Great job getting your "voices" across in these posts. I can almost hear Christina telling us "Open your eyes this isn't working!" and "Yata Yata Yata I get it..."Although we got a bit off topic in class today, your blog comments have really put us back on track. Keep up the good work! Mrs. Baker

  16. Well to go off of what I started to say in class, I really don’t think this author fully grasped what it was like to be in the shoes of the poor people she worked with. I mean at the beginning of the book wasn’t the point of the experiment to go in and be like those people she was studying? And yet as she goes along, time and again she bends the rules a little bit here and there. For example on page 48, “I leave. I don’t walk out. I just leave,” this shows us that already she has quit because the going got tough. Well personally I feel like that defeats the purpose because it didn’t go against any of her “reassuring limits.” She wasn’t questioning whether or not she would have her next meal, nor was she homeless… so therefore what “right” did she have to walk out on that job? Well obviously she technically could, because money is not an issue and if she really needed to she could just buy food. But to me that is just the problem. Those people she is studying and trying to be like, cannot simply quit a job and walk out. They NEED that salary no matter how small it is. They DEPEND on that money to survive. And a perfect example of that need is on page 110 when Holly says “something snapped…” She breaks her ankle and yet all she will do is call her boss and apologize, yet still keep working just as hard. So basically what im saying is, if Barbara Ehrenreich really wanted to fulfill her task then she should have tried a whole heck of a lot harder.

    Emily p. 3

  17. Well, I think that I said just about everything I had to say in class, but I did want to say how the book did have some positives to it. Barbara may have been complaining the entire book, but that is how it is for the extremely poor. She experienced (in a way) how a poor person must live. She deserves some respect for that and not to be criticized for her poor righting and possible marijuana usage(lolz). I also disagree with Matt and what he said about her not doing laboring work. I don't know of any job that she had that wasn't laboring. She was on her feet pretty much all day everyday, she got back problems, and had to take Tylenol including other drugs to stop the pain that she had. I don't know how that isn't labor intensive work. Even though she isn't on the Bearing Sea hauling crab pots doesn't mean that she isn't doing laboring work. Sorry, for the weird things in this response Mrs. Baker; I just wanted to spice it up a little bit.lolz

    Jeff Per. 3

  18. To start off, in response to Jon's reply, I also think that the discussion may have strayed away from what the book tries to expose and underline in society today. After pondering what I had said earlier today, I realized that I had meant to say that while many people have the opportunity to live and achieve the dream, the "American Dream", and so forth; while many are given the opportunity to succeed and live their dream out, others do not have an equal shot t their own dream. These people usually are at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum: because they are constantly worked (through hours upon hours of intense physical labor), they often cannot find time to pursue their dreams. They find themselves dragged deeper into the hole that they were dug into by the work that they do, for they cannot afford healthcare and receive little if any health benefits. Their well-being forces the to make changes to their lifestyle that we might not ever experience unless any of us were put in such a situation.

    Mrs. Ehrenreich did a good job in exposing the conditions that the lower class had to endure on a daily basis for years and years on end. Though she may have been very critical and sarcastic about her whole experience, she nonetheless brought about the point that maybe these stereotypes are quite often true. She may be pointing them out in order to expose how America, the "land of equal opportunity", cab still discriminate an differentiate between certain groups of people. I believe Mrs. Ehrenreich's true purpose of enduring this "experiment" was to expose what about 1/3 of the country must endure. She opened my eyes to the hardships each of those people had to deal with everyday, and ultimately, I think this is all what the book is about,

    The American Dream is a topic that is very debatable, so I think the class should stray away from questions that open-ended in large group discussions. To avoid getting off topic, we should have a timer to limit maybe how much time we allot to ourselves per question, as to be more time-efficient, while trying to maximize participation and include everyone in the discussion while limiting how far we stray off-topic.

    Will, Period 5

  19. I feel like the class discussion got a little off topic today. However, there were many important points brought up. We talked a lot about the “American Dream” and tried to define it. I agree with Deleram’s point that even though people may work extremely hard, they may not achieve success. Elaborating on that point, I believe that hard work can achieve success but it is necessary to start with something. Minimum wage workers work much harder than people with desk jobs and many still struggle to provide for their family. The starting point is what makes a difference in my opinion. The cycle that Barbara revealed is the most important part of the book in my opinion and is the reason starting with something makes such a difference. Additionally, I believe for each person the American Dream is different. Money doesn’t equate happiness or success. I agree with Siena’s point that being poor is unfortunate for medical reasons. The physical ailments that minimum wage workers deal with are treatable but most can’t afford to pay for insurance or the price of treatment. The lack of medical treatment was evident throughout the novel and makes minimum wage life that much more difficult.

    Ella Period 6

  20. The question that I would personally like to really talk about is number 8. I think that this is something that a lot of people looked upon and wasn't really happy about how everything happened. First off a lot of low-wage workers aren't provided with health care so come the time that they need to have to get a check up or go to the doctors because they are violently ill, they really can't because they can't afford it. The most famous part of this is probably when Barbara was a maid and the young girl Holly broke her leg. Barbara just didn't understand why Holly stopped and it was because Holly couldn't afford to stop because if she stops so does her income. In Holly's case it is really hard to take care of business like this because there is nothing at all she can do because granted she could go to the hospital but then again if she were to go she would be in even more debt than what she already is in and it is too risky to deal with. Also if she were to show up with a cast to work there is a very high chance that the boss would fire her because he can clearly find anyone else to come take her spot that isn't so unhealthy.

    Grace K. p.5

  21. In class today the question that got me the most was about the American Dream. I feel that as Americans we have the right to have big dreams and go after them as we please. In the class discusion today the "argueement" was about doing better then our parents. I beleive that our parents want whats best for us not so much to do "better" then they did. I agree with ryans comment on how it isn't possible for everyone to live up to their dreams and make it happen. I have always been told by my parents that I can do anything if I just set my mind to it. Being told that my whole life has made me believe that I can go after my dreams and be successful. With the economy now I can see how it could be a stuggle to make those dreams come true. For people that live in poverty go through stuggle day to day to feed themselves and their family, so going that extra mile to succeed could be impossible for them.
    Talking about low wage jobs i related to. I get paid minimum wage but I get treated with respect and don't get looked down apon. I felt that in the book, Barbra looked down upon her coworkers when she was one of them as well. She got caught up in the "experiment" and forgot what she was really tring to do I feel. - Kaitlin P

  22. On the worksheet, question 9 asks if we agree with Ehrenreich, and think that poverty is a "state of emergency." My opinion is that poverty is a big issue in our country, but I don't think it is a "state of emergency." People have lived in poverty there whole life and no matter how hard we try poverty is always going to be around. Poor people are every where and thats not going to change no matter how much we want it too. I think poverty is a big issue, but I think that a nuclear bomb or health care is a bigger issue than poverty. Yes, if someone that went from having money to not having any would be an issue, but poor people that live on the side of the road ussually have lived like that there whole life and are use to it. So trying to change that over bigger issues is really a "state of emergency."
    -Cheyenne Period 3

  23. I meant isn't really
    -Cheyenne Period 3

  24. I just wanted to comment on question 8 which talked about the injuries Barbara and the workers dealt with. I think all the discussions about injuries were a really important part of the book because a major problem of the working poor is the lack of health care. A lot of minimum wage jobs land their employees in a sort of limbo. They aren't poor enough for government aid but aren't making enough to afford private health care. On top of that, most minimum wage jobs require a fair amount of movement which could lead to injuries. For example, when Barbara was working as a dietary assistant she was taking about the labor with the dishes. Even with the simplest of tasks one could injure a muscle and not have the means to treat it. In a way it is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
    --Rachel, Period 3

  25. Referring to number 6, I believe that the “American Dream” is not attainable for all Americans. Many lower class people, especially those who were born into these types of families, don’t get the opportunities needed to achieve the “American Dream.” Lower class families often find themselves stuck in a situation in which it is impossible to make enough money and sustain a comfortable lifestyle. I have come to realize how lucky I am to have been born into a middle class family. I have the opportunity to meet my goals of going to college and graduating into a well paying job. It is disappointing to see high school students drop out of school because they are throwing away that opportunity that many lower class people would love to have.

    Billy Per. 3

  26. One major thing that I think we did not talk about during class, which pertains to question 4, is how this book shows how sexism affects our society even now. Ever since the beginning of the times when women started playing a larger roll in the working class, they have not been given equal opportunity whether it be for jobs available or for the amount of salary for a job. Even though there are laws that don't allow discrimination in the labor force, there are still ways that people get around it. One way, which is very prevalent in this book, is the grouping of certain sexes into different lines of work. For example, because of the fact that it is extremely rare for a male to be a maid, the female maids get treated worse. This maid example goes along with something else that has been sexist in our society since the beginning of time. The cult of domesticity has always been around and always affected society. The reason that women can get grouped into these jobs is that it falls into the line of work that our society expects of women. This includes taking care of children, cleaning, etc. Until the idea that women and men belong in certain lines of work is gone, then sexism will still exist in America.

    Buddy, Period 5

  27. I think that the discussion got a little off topic today but overall it went well. Some people had larger opinions than others and some people felt like just observing the conversation. The american dream to me means just being happy, being able to raise a stable family, and to be the best you and your family can be. Not everyone succeeds at acieving this particular dream but in a way they make their own dreams come true. In america today people need a starting point to get a jump on their dreams that not everyone has the opertunity to get.
    What alex said in class today about parents not necessarily wanting their children to do better than they did I am a little confused about. I think that he just didnt have the right words to achieve his point of view on the issue and maybe he meant exactly what he said. Personally i believe that no parent is leading a "Perfectly" happy life and there is always room to improve. Whether is is not having to go through just one difficlty they did or to move on to be a happy and successful money making professional. But overall everyone has their own opinions and I respect what everyone has to say.

    Erica. period 5

  28. I feel like during the past few class discussions, our class somehow managed to get quite off topic each time. I really wish we had more of a chance to discuss the book as a class further, considering how many different and interesting points of view have been brought up thus far. However, I suppose that this blog is designed for just that purpose; to get our ideas across even when we run out of time in class.
    That being said, there was just one thought I had that I didn't get to mention in class. I think that this book would have been much more successful if Barbara Ehrenreich had completely opened herself up to her project and actually allowed herself to feel a little more. Throughout the entire book, Barabara's mind was closed. She already had opinions set in stone about every little thing, ranging from different races to different cities to different jobs, etc. I think that Barbara could have let herself go a little hungry. I think that she could have seen a doctor at a free health clinic instead of calling her personal dermatologist when she developed a rash. I think that she could have stayed at that church a little longer and maybe actually have learned something different about other peoples' religions. There are countless opportunites throughout the book in which Barbara could have experienced so much more if she had just let her guard down. If only she had gone into this project with very few stereotypes (I understand that it is nearly impossible to have absolutely none. We are all human..) and an open mind, then this book could have been so much more effective.

    Allie p.5

  29. I just want to comment further on #1. The things that sets Barbara apart from the average low-wage workers is her qualification and her "good" health. Also, the fact of her having a car and having no children to look after sets her apart from low-wage workers..Her being white and her fluent English definitely is the reason for her admitting to have advantages over "real" low-wage workers.
    -Shrja.Period 5.

  30. I just want to comment further on #1. The things that sets Barbara apart from the average low-wage workers is her qualification and her "good" health. Also, the fact of her having a car and having no children to look after sets her apart from low-wage workers..Her being white and her fluent English definitely is the reason for her admitting to have advantages over "real" low-wage workers.
    -Shrija.Period 5.

  31. I just want to comment further on #1. The things that sets Barbara apart from the average low-wage workers is her qualification and her "good" health. Also, the fact of her having a car and having no children to look after sets her apart from low-wage workers..Her being white and her fluent English definitely is the reason for her admitting to have advantages over "real" low-wage workers.
    -Shrija.Period 3.

  32. I feel that this book really opened my eyes to what some people in America actually go through to get by. It made me think twice about spending my next paycheck on materialistic things that are the furthest things from a necessity. Even though the way she performed this experiment was not the best choice, the concept of the novel was brilliant. It was brilliant in a sense that it is not only a novel but it can also be used as a lesson book, a lesson book on life in general. I did feel, though, that she really portray a real life character that is living on minimum wage and that is poor. She had an emergency fund, she had a car, and she had an ATM card that she can use whenever she felt the absolute need. I just felt that someone who is truly living off of a minimum wage jab should not be going shopping for $30 pants. To me, that was just a breech in the experiment almost because it really wasn't accurate. I also felt that some of the way she said certain things throughout the book was very inappropriate. If someone reading this book that does shop at Walmart and does actually live off of minimum wage read the passages were she discriminates almost, they would not be very happy. But like I stated before, the concept of this book was very good but yet seemed to fall flat through the way Barbara portrayed it. But overall, good little read that really opened my eyes to many of the situations in America that people face every day of their lives.

    Tom - Period 3

  33. I dont think that the way Barbara went about this, for lack of a better term, "challenge" couldn't be classified as valid. For one, poor people who work these jobs for a living instead of an experiment don't have the option to rely on external sources. When Barbara went into her ATM account and used her other money, she was not getting a great sense of what it was really like. Her coworkers, during this time, didn't have that extra money that they could pull out of an account somewhere. If they had to, they would sleep in their car or go hungry. It kind of seemed like she wasn't getting the full feel of poverty in America. I think that if this were to be repeated, someone would go in fully prepared to sleep in their car or go to a foodbank if it means just barely getting by. But i think that Barbara made a valient effort but it just wasn't quite there.

    Austin Per. 3

  34. During our class discussion today many people argued about what the American Dream truly is. Even though we got a little off topic I would just like to reiterate and say that the American dream is not a straight statement; but instead whatever one interprets it to be. By definition the American Dream states that it is a national ethos of the United States of America in which democratic ideals are perceived as a promise of prosperity for its people. In the American Dream, first expressed by James Truslow Adams in 1931, citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a "better, richer, and happier life." I do not agree with this statement. I personally believe that the American Dream is what you make it to be; it is your goal that you must reach and push for whether that is to be rich or to just work as a diner waiter/waitress. It doesn’t matter what your Dream is but that you achieve it and are happy with what you have done.

    Alex A. Period 5

  35. The one thing i wanted to say during class would be how her bitter tone could have been avoided if she had gone about her research in a different way. She could have easily lived with a few families and worked with them to see what hardships the families go through behind closed doors. If she had done this i feel that she would have felt more sympathy for the way the lived and she would have gotten a better understanding of it as well instead of pretty much mocking them.

    Mary period 3

  36. I think that through out the story Barbra tried to accomplish what she was set out to do but you have to keep in mind that going into this experience she was very pessimistic. It was something her boss highly recommended not something she necessarily wanted to do. I think that had she gone into the experiment trying to make the best out of the situation she would have done a lot better. She came across with a sense of wry humor and very insulting. She may have not intended to be that way but she sure came across that way to me and what seem to be many people in my class. Also she was a little over dramatic and a bit of a whiner when it came to her back aches and such. To think about it in a different perspective, I don’t know her life growing up or her home life which could have affected the way she wrote. Also I have never conducted an experiment the way she did so I don’t know I would act so its hard to judge her but then again the things she says makes it hard not to judge her.

    jessica period 5

  37. Our class discussion was very "in your face", but that's the way we are. We're all very opinionated and want to be heard when we think of something new or interesting to talk about or to even just defend our standpoints. We all need to learn, including myself, how to let someone finish their thought before we begin another or make a judgement off of it. As for our discussions aboout Nickel and Dimed, there were a lot of negative things to be said. I don't agree with the way Barb did everything, and i certainly think it should be tried again. She had a game plan, but not thorough enough to figure out things for every day life or just simply saving money. Her safety nets were too big and she did not cover a lot of the necessary things there are to be covered when writing about something so important.
    Margaret P.5

  38. Referreing to question 4 on connections between "women's work" and low wages...I think that "women's work is in most cases(or at least back then) the same as low wages. Employers rip off women doing "men's work" just because they are women. They could be doing better work than a man would and the employer would still take advantage of them because apparently women are inferior to men. Thankfully times have changed and women are about equal to men, the way it should be. But on the other side some employers just give ALL empolyees low wages. Barbara Ehrenreich did a good job at showing a woman's side of things,due to the fact that the entire book was basically based on women workers.

    Nicole Period 3

  39. Barbara made a huge accomplishment by following through and writing a book about herself experiencing minimum wage. Although I did not enjoy reading the book, I give her a lot of props for enduring these hard months of sacrifice and work. I think that this book really shows the care that Barbara has for the poor and how she wants the world to get a taste of what tons of people have to go through every day in their lives. Barbara did have many advantages over the poor in the book and had escape roots which the actual poor people would not be able to rely on like she did if times became rough. She also did not have children to care for like most women had in the novel . Barbara clearly stated that she would not allow her self to go hungry or to starve. People who are poor don't have this option in life. A part in the book that really stood out to me was Barbara's reaction to the woman who broke her ankle as she was cleaning houses in Maine. The woman continued to work and would refuse to stop. Barbara was so taken back from this and decided to go talk to the boss. What Barbara didn't understand was that this woman could not afford to take a day off. She was barely making enough money and needed every penny of it so her breaking her ankle did not phase her. I think that Barbara said what ever she felt like and she went on and on too much. She didn't know when to stop because some chapters kept dragging on forever and you would be reading the same thing over again. In the novel she used some of the real characters stories, like the woman who lived in her car, and really showed what they went through and allowed us to notice the feelings and emotions that the poor felt. That really taught me about the lives of the poor and what living conditions they had to live through and how our lives are taken for granted the majority of the time. This book has taught me a a lot and gave me many mixed feelings.I learned to work hard and to never take my life for granted because there are many people out there who would love to have what we do.

    Kendra p.3

  40. I think that Barbara Ehrenreich did a fairly good job at capturing something and writing about ordeals that not everybody can face. Sure, she could've leveled her views and put her opinions in a better light, but she offered insight into a world unseen by most. I agree with Christina- sure, many people do not like this book, but it's because of a few lines here and there that may have been a bit biased from her normal life, not because of the overall message given from the book. She did indeed admit defeat in the Evaluation chapter, and she included that completely leaving your normal life behind and trying to drop into somewhere that's new and different is impossible! She didn't want to experience the emotional rollarcoaster that most in that situation do. She did not want to lose her home- even if it was temporary. Be it a sense of pride, or just a sense of "I really can't fail at this experiment", those were her two rules and she made sure she kept to them. Plus, can you imagine being a fairly known, well-off journalist from some lofty lifestyle, going into a very emotionally unstable environment? She would definitely have had a life changing experience, and maybe she wasn't ready for that, and so in her stages she made sure she guarded herself well and kept in touch with her "formal" life.
    I think instead of opening the eyes of everyone around (aka the readers), she should have included herself in the group of people that needed their eyes opened up. Going into her experiment, she wasn't exactly a perfect soul, who not only emphasized with every human being, but also understood the faulty economic system America has. She was just like every other American citizen- naive to the class of lower wage workers that have to deal with an extremely limited budget, and live on a small income that hardly covers all daily necessities.
    One other thing that bothered most people was the idea that she was racist. Yes, I will admit there are some lines that she wrote that were pretty harsh and definitely sounded terrible. But I don't think she worded her sentences in that way on purpose. Sometimes we put things down on paper that we think are good, we think are strong enough to leave an impression on people, and only after you print out that final draft do you realize- Yeah, this left an impression alright, but it was the wrong impression to make. I think it was wrong for her to prejudge some of the people she encountered, but I think that's only human nature- It's just whether or not you stick with those judgments that's the issue. For example, when she had to stay in the trailer park and was “anxious for some colorful, multi-cultural street-fighting”. That really upset me because I had a family member who was going through an awful crisis and had to resort to living in a trailer park. He, like many people there, did not ask to live there and was no different than me or you. His story was that his 7 year old son was sick with cancer and couldn't afford a house, or an apartment, close enough to the hospital. For her to judge everybody there so quickly, and so harshly, hurt me. But I can see how that can happen... I just wish that she wasn't so callous to put it like that.
    Overall, I think she did as good as humanly possible. Of course her book wouldn't be perfect, but hey! It made people discuss issues we're faced with, it made people interested and maybe connect with something they never thought of before. She could've wrote it differently, but all of our styles are different so who's to judge? Um, I think that's all I was going to rant about.... haha.

    Alyssa Eraybar; Period 5

  41. Nickel and Dimed has got to be the worst book I have ever read. Barbra’s writing style was very plain and got annoying very easily. Each section was exactly the same; has to find a place to live and a job and then she quit and moved. The only thing different was the place she lived in, the job she worked, and the people she worked with. She wasn’t funny at all. I actually thought she was pretty mean. All the racial comments and her attempts at jokes and humor were very poor. I hardly think she got any point across about not being able to get by in America. There were too many variables in her experiment. She didn’t stay in one place very long, she had “back- up” money that she used all the time, and she also did it alone. Barbra’s assumptions that people cannot get by on low wages I don’t really think is a valid conclusion. For example, Gail, who she worked with first, lived out of her car, but she still got through each year as well as many other people so made it each year. It obviously must be hard, but people do it all the time. She complained all the time, and she was only doing this to write a journal. The people that grew up this way, and lived through it, and worked at these jobs every day for a living didn’t complain as much. I think she should redo this entire thing, but make it valid this time. Although if she did redo it, and wrote another book, I still wouldn't read it.

    Jessica p.3

  42. To Jessica: I don't think she intended on showing that these people could physically live each day, but that they struggled to live in a modern-day society in America.


  43. I believe our class discussion went well, however I think we should cut Barbara a little slack. Many of us stated that she did a terrible job with her experiment but we have to understand that this is the first time anything like this was ever done. Therefore, we must consider it a first and we all know that the first time anything is done never really turns out well. Scientists do experiments numerous times before they come up with a solution. This is why it's called an experiment, I believe Barbara planned it out pretty well and thought her experiment through.
    -Jerry P.5