She Really Just Wanted to Sell the Book

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"The first thing I discovered is that no job, no matter how lowly, is truly "unskilled."

-From Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed


I really wanted to choose a quote from Ehrenreich's "Evaluation" chapter because I feel she pulled a lot of her most important ideas into this chapter.  I ended up choosing the above quote because it reflects Ehrenreich's new view of the working class.  At the beginning of her experiment, she had a somewhat biased and superior attitude towards the working class.  However, because she was able to  practically become a member of the working class, she was able to appreciate their jobs and their ways of life. 

Many of my peers were horrified by Ehrenreich's language and actions even after they read that she was positively affected by her experiences (you can see their opinions here); however I feel that Ehrenreich is just being candid.  I believe that Ehrenreich wanted to create controversy, wanted to emotionally affect her audience, and wanted to dramatize all aspects of her experiences because she wanted to sell the book.  Would Seton Hill have chosen this book as an introductory text for freshmen if it had been a book that went under the radar?  I don't think so.  Would it have gotten onto the New York Times bestseller list if people had not been angered enough to talk about it?  Of course not.  I'm not saying that Ehrenreich should have flaunted her supposed superiority as she did in some of her experiences; doing this is, in my opinion, not being superior.  I am not sticking up for some of her thoughts and actions, but I am saying that she met her goal of getting all of my classmates to express emotion concerning the book, and maybe even sold more copies because of the publication of their emotions on their blogs and to their friends and families.



Good observations, Erica. Authors who create debate, who get people talking, even disagreeing, have a greater impact than authors who are too timid to tread on someone else's toes. As I noted in class, I respect Ehrenreich for being so candid, even though I tend to agree with you that it's hard to take her efforts seriously when she explains the limits of her experiment.

A woman writer would have fudged the details in her favor. (Of course, we can't know what *else* she left out of this book!)

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