Hanging On Requires Dedication

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Kaitlin Monier’s blog on Barbara Ehrenreich’s  Nickel and Dimed made me consider why Ehrenreich might have included the quote:

"Take away the career and the higher education, and maybe what you're left with is this original Barb, the one who might have ended up working at Wal-mart for real if her father hadn't managed to climb out of the mines." (Ehrenreich 169).

And it also made me think about what Ehrenreich really meant by it.  I agree with Kaitlin that background does not decided one’s fate, but I also think that being economically well off sure can help.  In order for Ehrenreich to have been able to succeed and go to college like she did, she would have had to work very hard at these low-wage jobs, while she was trying to climb the social ladder.  I think that Ehrenreich’s point is that these low-wage jobs are so physically exhausting that she might not have been able to hang onto the rung of the ladder she had managed to get to.  She would have been so tired that hanging on to the little progress she had made would take an extremely dedicated, strong person—something that not many people are.  Yes, Ehrenreich might have ended up where she is regardless, but I think she is just stressing this point to show how much harder it is for those who are not financially well off to succeed.  Where someone who has the resources is already at the top of the ladder, someone who does not, must climb.  I think that that is why Ehrenreich included this quote and not because she thinks it is impossible for someone to improve their lives economically.    

 

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