American Careers In The Terkel's Working

1014 words - 4 pages

America: The People behind the Professions

A little girl dreams of a white wedding with white doves flying over the ceremony and the fairy-tale honeymoon. Only then to come home to the yellow house in the country, with the white picket fence included. Everyone has daydreamed about their future and having the “perfect” house, with the “perfect” car and the “perfect” marriage- everyone wants to live the “American Dream”. There are many people that believe that the “American Dream” is a concept that they are entitled to and expected to live. Then, there are those who believe that you should use the opportunities that America offers as a stepping stone to earn and create your own “American dream”. However, as time goes on the mainstream idea of “living the American Dream” has changed. This change is mostly due to the ever-changing economy, professions, and expectations of the American people. Throughout the book Working, by Studs Terkel, we meet many diverse groups of people to discover the people behind the jobs that allows American society to operate and how their choice of a career path has changed their lives.
Here is "Mike Lefervre" , a 37-year-old steel worker. Lefervre talks down on intellectuals, and complains that they degrade people who actually work. A moment later, however, he contradicts and degrades himself: "A mule, an old mule, that's the way I feel." He is hurt and irritated that his son "lacks respect” but yet, "I want my kid to be a
America: The People behind the Professions 3

snob... I want him to tell me he's not gonna be like me." Lefervre wants his son to have the life he never had and was unable to provide for him. This is a common thought for many parents in America. He talks about the anger that he feels inside him: he goes to a bar, randomly insults somebody, and picks a fight. "He's punching me and I'm punching him, because we really both want to punch somebody else." However, "Who you gonna sock? You can't sock General Motors, you can't sock anyone in Washington. You can't sock a system." Lefervre is frustrated that the system isn’t perfect and there isn’t a whole lot that he can do to make a change. He feels trapped and continues on the daily grind hoping for a better tomorrow.
Then there is Fritz Rita, doorman for over 40 years in an apartment house in Upper West Side, that used to be the cream of the crop. "It was real high class," he says, sorrowfully. "Nice furniture, rugs on the floor, wearing fancy uniforms.” Even with all its grandeur, "the tenants looked down on me... you only spoke when they spoke to you, otherwise you didn't say nothin'." It would be a rarity in present- day society to see a Doorman, more so picturing someone of his class engaging in conversation with a guest, like Studs Terkel. As...

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