Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Book Report

Essay by SwilliamsonUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2005

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Nickel and Dimed both entertained and disturbed me, with much more on the latter. In this book, the author deliberately places herself in the position of the working poor, taking jobs that aren't fit for a slave to earn money not fit for anyone over the age of 12. The best way to find out what a certain life would be like is to walk in the shoes of one who lives it. She temporarily altered her entire life, so that she could work the jobs, live in the accommodations, and eat the food, or lack thereof, of one who would clearly live below the poverty line.

Although there were obvious differences between her and one who really does live this life, with no way out, the situations she placed herself in gave at least a taste of what life is like for a significant percentage of the American work force. I can forgive any non- scientific analysis Ms. Ehrenreich made of the various situations she became involved with. She did, after all, confess to this in various forms right from the beginning.

What struck home the hardest is that here, in the United States of America, the "land of the free", an unacceptably large percentage of people live below the poverty line. Even for those who may live above it, there is still poverty, even if the federal government doesn't acknowledge it. For all of these people, the wages that they earn are insufficient to obtain life's basic necessities. Everything costs money, your shelter so you can rest and go to your job, your clothes so you can go to your job, your food so that you can survive to go to your job, to earn the money needed to pay for your clothes, your shelter, and...