Iron Mills Essay

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Rebecca Harding Davis Life in the Iron Mills introduces the reader to a dirty dingy and dangerous world of an early industrial era iron mill. The classes of the times are polar opposites, on one side of the spectrum we have the rich mill owners and on the other we have the poor mill workers who can barely afford food. Unfortunately this is the social norm of the time, this was before the creation of a middle class in America. This social caste meant that the rich thought of the poor as lower than themselves and actually worth less than the rich people. The social caste of the time meant that anybody that was born into a poor family was poor no matter how intelligent they were or how good they were at something. This is shown when the men come to the iron mill and find Hughs sculpture of the woman. They all like the statue but none of them think that Hugh is worth the money it would take to train him. This is shown in these two passages "Have you many such hands as this? What are you going to do with them? Keep them at puddling iron?" and the passage "Ce n'est pas mon affaire. I have no fancy for nursing infant geniuses. I suppose there are some stray gleams of mind and soul among these wretches. The Lord will take care of his own; or else they can work out their own salvation. I have heard you call our American system a ladder which any man can scale. Do you doubt it? Or perhaps you want to banish all social ladders, and put us all on a flat table-land,eh, May?" This was before the time when workers rights became a movement; the norm of the time was for the poor to work for 12 hours a day, six days a week. The standard living conditions of the time were small cabins that held more than one family of workers. The poor were kept uneducated so that they would have less of a chance of leaving the ironmills because they would have little to no idea were they could go. The rich people of the time used the poor as animals, they also discriminated against them, for instance a black worker no matter how hard he worked was worth less than a white worker. They also discriminated against women; the women did not get to work in the iron mills they had to work as seamstresses or prostitutes. The classism of life in the mills meant that whatever you were born as marked you for life, for instance if you were born into a white family you were better of than if you were born into a Asian or Black family. The rich of the time mostly took advantage of the poor and kept them poor so that they could work for them until they died. The people in the story of life in the iron mills experience the classism of the time first hand. It is not Hugh losing his mind that causes him to commit suicide but the realization that he will never be free of his social caste let alone prison that causes him to kill himself. Bibliography Classism Wikipedia.org, The Wikimedia project. This page was last modified 00:39, 4 February 2007, All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classism

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