10/09/12: Nickel & Dimed: Part 2


What does “ergonomically congenial” mean?

How has Ehrenreich’s perception of searching for job applications, appropriate housing, and actually working a minimum wage job transformed her?

Why does Ehrenreich accuse Jesus to be a “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious sociaist”?

What or who is a “yuppie”?

Why does Ehrenreich associate certain positions based on racist assumptions?


“I return to my room to find that the door no longer responds to my key. As it turns out, this is just management’s way of drawing my attention to the fact that more money is due.”

“The real function of these tests… is to convey information… to the potential employee, and the information being conveyed is always: You will have no secrets from us.”

“I cannot help thinking, very few customers smell like they’re carrying a fresh dump in their undies.”

“… that this place he has described as so morbidly dysfunctional could amount to a real and compelling human community.”

“… sounds like the perfect entertainment for an atheist out on her own.”

“Is the ‘soul’ that lives forever the one we possess at the moment of death… or is it our personally best soul – say, the one that indwells in us at the height of our cognitive powers and moral aspirations?”

“Almost everyone is embedded in extended families or families artificially extended with housemates.”

“… we are given only so many minutes per house…”

“… thinking all this water is mine. I have paid for it, in fact, I have earned it.”

“When the song ends, I give them a dollar, the equivalent of about ten minutes of sweat.”

“… a self-cleaned house was the hallmark of womanly virtue” and “But mostly I rejected the idea… because this is just not the kind of relationship I want to have with another human being.”

“The first time I encountered a shit-stained toilet as a maid, I was shocked by the sense of unwanted intimacy.”

“‘We’re nothing to these people.'”

“Maybe, it occurs to me, I’m getting a tiny glimpse of what it would be like to be black.”

“… I wake up at three in the morning gripped by the theory that Pete had deliberately set me up.”

“The moneylenders have finally gotten Jesus out of the temple.”

Rhetorical Analysis

Irony: “I need a job and an apartment, but to get a job I need an address and a phone number and to get an apartment it helps to have evidence of stable employment”

Diction: “Careening” describes the difference between how the lower social class tends to dive into situations while the middle class usually has a laid out plan in relation to their occupations. “Nonchalant” describes the lack of warmth in many factory environments.

Analogy: “If the supply (of labor) is low relative to demand, the price should rise, right? That is the ‘law… In the new version of the law of supply and demand, jobs are so cheap – as measured by the pay – that a worker is encouraged to take on as many of them as she possibly can.'” – Makes an understandable comparison of why the minimum wage is low in Portland when the demand of labor is high.

Euphemism: “… the idea… is to get them eating fast before they collapse into their plates from low blood sugar.” – A softer way of saying the residents die.

Details: “Cigarette date” – An unusual, but descriptive way to present a date. “Austere beauty” – Describes one of her techniques of being a maid.

Colloquialism: “goody-goody” – Describes her character of reading in her free time instead of drinking.

Metaphor: ” I will become a luminous beacon in the gathering darkness of dementia, compensating, in some cosmic system of justice, for the impersonal care my father received in far less loving facility.”

Parody: “It’s good to know that something is cheaper than my time, or that in the hierarchy of the company’s values I rank above Windex.”

Imagery: “It sits there like a beached ocean liner, the prow cutting through swells of green turf, windows without number.” – Describes a residence of a wealthy individual.”

Tone: When Ehrenreich  works, her language becomes direct and stressed in addition to her judgmental thoughts in comparison to when she is not working, consisting of a tranquil relief sensation.

Simile: “… we search like cat burglars” and “… I look like a leper.”

Invective: “friggin’ bitch,” – Description of an owner.

Repetition: “Don’t stop, don’t think, don’t even pause for an instant…”


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