Analysis of Ehrenreich's Experiences of Working Undercover as a Low-Wage Worker

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What role does the American ideal of hard work play in how low wage workers view themselves, and in how they are viewed by more affluent members of American society? Is this ideal more true or more false, and why? In "Evaluation," the muckraking journalist Barbara Ehrenreich evaluates her experiences working undercover as a low-wage worker. Ehrenreich undertook her investigation of low-wage life to demonstrate that it was not possible to even 'get by' in America working minimum wage jobs, much less get ahead. She also learned an unexpected lesson: low wage workers themselves often bought into the myth of the American Dream. Many blamed themselves if they could not get ahead and simply resolved to work harder, rather than questioned a world in which they had so little, while the people they served had so much. The American gospel of hard work is that America is a meritocracy, and everyone who deserves to get ahead in America can do so. This is why women who are maids will often go to extraordinary lengths to do their backbreaking job for little pay, to prove they are worthy, as well as the pressure they feel to earn a paycheck. Even Ehrenreich herself admits to wanting to do a job well and feeling a sense of pride that despite her age she was able to perform in a credible fashion as a waitress, maid, and Wal-Mart employee. What is so striking about the way that Ehrenreich makes her argument about the bankruptcy and lies of the American Dream is the intensely personalized

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