As this wasn't real life to her, was Barbara's experiment valid? She went with a car, previous knowledge, and the ability to give up at any moment.

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mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, Barbara's experiment in the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, was a valid experiment.  Yes, she did have outs that other people in the book did not have, but she did try to live as they did within the confines of her reality of observing life in the trenches.  Her writing makes clear the struggle which the poorer people in America go through just to survive, and clearly debunks the idea of the "welfare rich."  The example for me which  strikes most clearly is the woman who waits at Wal-Mart for the blouse to go on clearance so that she can afford the 3.00 on her salary.  Each of Barbara's ventures gives evidence that even with hard work, people can struggle and need help, just a bit of help to get them over the hump.  Each also shows that some people help others even when they have little of their own as the woman does who lets Barbara stay with her.  Barbara does know that she can escape, but does admit that even knowing that, she too became anxious about getting by. 

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