Sunday, 26 February 2012

Negative Critique of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

The above website offers a deeply negative critique of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, after it was placed on a reading list for freshman Literature students at the University of North Carolina.

They surprisingly refer to the book as ' liberal propaganda infused with religious bigotry,' and question its controversial subject matter as suitable for college students. They believe Ehrenreich refers to Jesus as a Marxist revolutionary, and they find this remark extremely disparaging. As we know from previous lessons, Americans are generally anti-socialist and pro-religion, and by mixing the two together it appears Ehrenreich has offended many people's deep beliefs. Admittedly, whilst reading the book, I did not feel it was overly concerned with religion, rather the despicable and unacknowledged state of class division within America, but this may be a product of my British atheist upbringing.

Further on in the article they denounce Ehrenreich as having a 'communist ideological bias;' declaring her writing, especially Nickel and Dimed, un-objective and therefore likely to omit some of the more reasonable material. Their objections to some of Ehrenreich's comments continue in the form of a list, wherein they appear to pick at points which hold little relevance to the overall content and meaning behind the novel. Most especially, they pinpoint Ehrenreich's unhappiness at being called 'girl,' claiming that most middle aged women would be happy at such a compliment.

They then reel off government statistics in an effort to devalue Ehrenreich's work and claim it is immaterial in the majority of real life situations - in much the same way as the Governor of Detroit declared the problem of poverty was non-existent, despite the homeless camps popping up outside his city. To them, Ehrenreich's claims are 'dubious,' despite the fact she has nothing to gain from making these accusations. And they even liken Ehrenreich to an award-winning journalist who was found to have fabricated evidence in order to write an article - hinting that Ehrenreich may have just fictionalised the whole thing, in an appalling effort to discredit her.

They declare that, 'a consistent thesis of Nickle and Dimed is that the poor deserve to earn more; the rich do not deserve what they earn; and the bourgeoisie are merely robots.' This shows their true distaste for the topic within the novel, and obvious belief that there are no class lines within America and that Ehrenreich is blowing the problem of poverty out of proportion. They believe Ehrenreich is an 'elitist' whose words mean little, but they appear to have completely missed the underlying issues within the novel by being too busy disparaging her in any way possible.

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