An Inspector Calls

Sheila is moved by the Inspectors description of what happened to Eva Smith after she left Birlings works, what social points does the Inspector make and how does Sheila respond?

Inspector: Yes. She was out of work for the next two months. Both her parents were dead, so that she'd no home to go back to. And she hadn't been able to save much out of what Birling and Company had paid her. So that after two months, with no work, no money coming in, and living in lodgings, with no relatives to help her, few friends, lonely, half-starved, she was feeling desperate.

Sheila: (warmly) I should think so. It's a rotten shame.

Inspector: There are a lot of young women living that sort of existence in every city and big town in this country, Miss Birling. if there weren't, the factories and warehouses wouldn't know where to look for cheap labour. ask your father.

Sheila: But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people.

Inspector: (dryly) I've had that notion myself from time to time. In fact, I've thought that it would do us all a bit of good if sometimes we tried to put ourselves in the place of these young women counting their pennies in their dingy little back bedrooms.

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The Inspector is his usual unsympathetic and gruff self. He uses a hint of sarcasm to describe putting himself in these women's shoes. The Inspector says that women like Eva are a dime a dozen in cities across the country. He implies that their poverty is somehow their own fault or simply their lot in life. Sheila counters that these girls aren't merely "cheap labour" but human beings. The Inspector isn't moved at all.