Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Corporate Christianity and the Crucified Worker: The Harsh Irony of Religion in 'Nickel and Dimed' 11th Grade

Barbara Ehrenreich’s memoir Nickel and Dimed commemorates her experiences as an “unskilled” worker attempting to live on the low wages of her temporary lower class. As she works various jobs in different geological locations across the United States, she describes her own economic, physical, mental, logistical, and social challenges as well those of her fellow workers. She uses those experiences not only to prove the difficulty of minimum wage living, but to criticize corporate establishments and to advocate simultaneously for the individuality of workers and for their solidarity. In constructing this argument she includes descriptions of several encounters with Christians, specifically referring frequently to Jesus, drawing implicit comparisons between the religion and corporations, mixing capitalistic and religious diction. She makes clear her disdain for what she perceives to be Christian hypocrisy through her sarcasm and ironic religious diction, and successfully attacks romanticization of poverty perpetuated by Christian notions of sacrifice and suffering.

The religious aspect of Ehrenreich’s argument emerges subtly as she establishes the distrust that Christians hold for the working class and the similar distrust held by...

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