Piecework and Prostitution: Americanization and the Death of the American Dream

Student: Melanie Ann Vollono
Mentor: Cara Erdheim Kilgallen
Major: English

In this paper, I seek to expose many of the horrors of both historical meat packing industries and the food industries dominating America today in terms of the achievement of the American Dream. Further, throughout my thesis, I focus mainly on the immigrant perspective as well as how their lives are adversely affected from major corporations and labor conditions within the workforce. To get an authentic sense of the struggle, I have closely analyzed Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle, and Eric Schlosser’s, Fast Food Nation as well as other noted authors’ books and articles.

Sinclair’s novel focuses on a Lithuanian immigrant family that immigrates to Chicago in the 1850s and Schlosser presents the modern-day implications of harsh labor conditions. I discuss not only the physical and emotional trauma of working for large factories, but also the spiritual and intimate shortcomings of being an immigrant. Also, I reveal the bigger struggle for immigrant women, as they are a double minority. I will examine the rhetorical strategies Schlosser and Sinclair use to achieve their goal of awareness about this large issue. Ultimately, I seek to prove the inaccessibility of the American Dream for anyone who is not white, middle-class, and male. I will also showcase the harsh labor conditions and poor wages given to the immigrant slaves that provide the backbone for most major corporations in America.