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Unformatted text preview: Wallmart – the Jungle of the new century? Comparing The Jungle and Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting By in America I have chosen to compare the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. The reason why I chose to compare these books is that almost a century has passed between these books were written, but they still tell almost identical stories about the people on the bottom of society’s ladder. I wanted to find out if these books changed society and if the different styles of writing have any impact on how we understand the stories that are told. The Jungle was written in 1906, and tells the story of a group of second wave immigrants from Latvia, who come to the US to experience the American Dream. Jurgis talked lightly about work, because he was young. They told him stories about the breaking down of men, there in the stockyards of Chicago, and what has happened to them afterward – stories to make your flesh creep, but Jurgis would only laugh. 1 They are told that the meat packing industry in Chicago is the place to be for people seeking fortune. One of the main characters, Jurgis Rudkus, and his family are used to the hard, but familiar ways of living in the rural Latvia. They do not speak English, nor do they have any higher education. They are an easy prey for sleazy real estate agents and others who make a living from deceiving others. Soon they discover that the jobs are only easy to getting during certain periods of the year and they have to go without work or work less for much of the season. This means no money for food, clothes, housing and medical care. One after one they get sick or die. It seems that every time they manage to get everything into balance, something goes wrong and they fall down on the ground again. The society is about to kill Jurgis when he in the end discovers som and finds new hope for the future. The Jungle is not remembered as literature history’s brightest moments. The writing style is pompous, especially in the end when the author focuses on sot rambling instead of telling a good story. This is obviously meant to be social criticism and a political novel that aims to present som as the final 1 1 Upton Sinclair. The Jungle ,(1906, Dover Thrift Editions, Dover Publications Inc, 2001). p 17 1 solution. But despite of its flaws, the novel has definitely got its value as a description of the situation for many immigrants around the turn of the century. Nickel and Dimed is not fiction, but a story told by the so-called intellectual, highly educated author and columnist Barbara Ehrenreich. She had read about how difficult it is to live on minimum wages in America, but she had also read answers from critics who claim that minimum wages is enough to get by. She made the decision to experience the low-wage life herself. She left her fashionable high-end life and traveled around the US working undercover in places like Wallmart. Her aim was to survive on life and traveled around the US working undercover in places like Wallmart....
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- Spring '08
- The Jungle, Laborer, Barbara Ehrenreich