Thursday, January 04, 2007

Scrubbing in Maine

Scrubbing in Maine

1) Ehrenreich writes, "The main thing I learn from the job-hunting process is that, despite all the help-wanted ads and job fairs, Portland is just another $6-$7-an-hour town. This should be as startling to economists as a burst of exotic radiation is to astronomers" (59-60).

· Why should this be startling?

· And why is it happening?

None of Ehrenreich's jobs in Nickel and Dimed lends her much dignity, but her position with The Maids turns out to be particularly demeaning in certain ways. She explains, "Maids, as an occupational group, are not visible, and when we are seen, we are often sorry for it"(99).

· In what ways are she and her co-workers at The Maids not visible?

· Why do you think she includes herself here, using "we" to designate those who work in this area—after all, isn't this just an experiment for her?

3) In one episode with The Maids, Ehrenreich takes up for one of her coworkers, pointing out that she need not feel such loyalty to Ted, the manager.

"What's all this worrying about Ted? He'll find someone else. He'll take anyone who can manage to show up sober at 7:30 in the morning. Sober and standing upright."

"No," Holly finally interjects. "That's not true. Not everybody can get this job. You have to pass the test."

The test? The Accutrac test? "The Test," I practically yell, "is BULLSHIT! Anyone can pass that test!" (113)

Ehrenreich sees this as a moment of unity with her coworker, Holly. However, the moment proves to break what has been a good relationship between them.

· Why did this end the good relationship?

· In what ways might Ehrenreich have been misguided in her effort to empower and support Holly?

The author gives us a pretty cynically humorous account of a visit to a tent revival in Portland, commenting that "Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth" (68-69).

· How is this commentary a response to her experience, and an explanation for other observations she has made about human nature?

No comments: