Ehrenreich is part of the upper-middle class; she is "privileged" to have a job in which she makes money by sitting at her desk and writing (E 2). She has never considered herself one of the working poor before this experiment, even though she explains, "the low-wage way of life had never been many degrees of separation away" (E 2). Ehrenreich lacks the working background of the poor class; she lacks the experience of being monetarily and physically put under stress for an entire lifetime. In Maine, she plainly states, "If I am now a productive fake member of the working class, it's because I haven't been working, in any hard physical sense, long enough to have ruined my body" (E 90). The support network she has more than once fallen back on is also proof that she has come from a completely different background than those of the working class. In Maine, she gets a rash. "So I fall back on the support networks of my real-life social class, call the dermatologist I know in Key West, and bludgeon him into prescribing something sight unseen" (E 88). Ehrenreich is also privileged to take trips home. "I take occasional breaks from this life, going home now and then to catch up on e-mail and for conjugal visits... seeing The Truman Show with friends..."(E 34). She mentions at one point that part of her drive for going o...
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... (E 133). When Caroline meets her best and closest friend at a Dumpster, I seriously have to doubt that she was living a decent middle-class life as her household income supposedly suggested she was. Not even the marriage eased the burdens. "Her tribulations did not end with marriage but went on to include bouts of homelessness and a lot more interstate travel by Greyhound with children" (E 133). Is this what Congress truly considers a middle-class lifestyle? Caroline is who I feel would be the best representative of the working poor. She has a lifetime background of monetary and physical struggles, a certain respect of money that comes from living a pay-check-to-pay-check life, and the meek attitude of a working poor woman.
My citing within the text is (E page#) and this stands for Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America.
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