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What would be a suitable essay topic for the first chapter of Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, "Serving in Florida"?

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Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To avoid simply summarizing the chapter, I think you could easily pull out a theme that appears heavily in this chapter and that you will find reoccurring throughout this text. For instance, you could write about how Ehrenreich must face some harsh realities about poverty in this first chapter. She begins her job search thinking she can pick and choose from among the low-wage jobs she knows of; she starts out remembering her waitressing experiences as a teenager and thinks this is the one job she does not want. Of course, this is the one she ends up having to take. She also begins her experiment believing she will have no problem finding a job paying $7 per hour and being able to find a place to rent for $500-$600 per month; she is unsuccessful at both. She sees others at her restaurant job suffer fears of deportation, struggle with homelessness, and live with a myriad of other difficulties that all stem from poverty.

This chapter is a hard dose of the reality that Ehrenreich thought she already knew. I think centering your essay around the misconceptions that she had going into her experiment would make a great framework.

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