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David Von Drehle Critique: The Fire That Changed America Essay

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Updated: Jan 2nd, 2022

Introduction

In his book ”the fire that Changes America”, the writer explores the social problems that faced the American people in their social settings. He describes these problems using different illustrations. The writer addresses the social problems faced by both men and women. He has explored how workers are mistreated in their workplace, especially the woman worker.

First of all he takes us to a factory set up. That factory attracted so many workers. The working conditions within this factory were unbearable but the workers had no option other than to work under such conditions. Men controlled all unions and political parties apart from owning shops. Women could only wash dishes in the house. The lady Clara Lemlich quotes these words from one of the lady students from the bookI wash the dishes.The writer is trying here to address the issue of inequality that existed between men and women of that time. The men were supposed to work while ladies could take care of household chores. Clara Lemlich and her colleagues are shown struggling to change this archaic tradition. She is to be punished because of her efforts to change this norm (Von Drehle, 2004).

The American woman worker

The writer clearly brings out the social injustices that the common woman faced in the United States of America. They were seen as unreliable and when they were found competing with men they could be driven out of the industry. But they formed a strong organization to fight for their rights. In the process, most of them found themselves dead. The organization formed by ladies such as Faith Lillian and Addams Jane finally got support from men like William English walling. He assisted in changing the organization of women’s wage workers into trade unions. The union strengthened and its leadership was later passed to women. This solved social injustices that faced the women. Therefore he has addressed social problems well. The writer also brings in a young leader with good governance skills that are Mr. Murphy.This young man ousts all corrupt men in various departments in his district but he is not fully appreciated by all. He gets only the support of his few tribesmen. This is exactly what the all world is facing today. Those coming from small tribes could not get leadership positions despite their qualifications. It takes courage and confidence to fight this problem. He could walk the talk. And do all that he promised and those are the leaders we need (D’Orazio, 2007).

Workers Rights violations

The author also addresses how rights of workers are violated in his book. Jacob Kline a sewing machine operator and who contracted with the factory on behalf of the workers ends up spending all his dues on workers. Nothing remains for him to support his family, his personal expenditures and other needs for his wellbeing. When he raises the issue he only meets the exit notice. There is no job security since one can be fired without any legal procedures being followed.This leads to workers working out of fear instead of with passion. This is one of the problems faced by workers in most factories. Their efforts are not appreciated. In addition, Kline is forcefully pushed out and in the process loses his glasses and nobody bothers replacing him. So the writer has explicitly outlined how the rights of employees are violated (Caviness, 2004).

The factory workers could also be seen going without the necessities such as food even though they are working. They as well have no good housing conditions and their health condition is pathetic. Children of these workers could rarely acquire good basic education. The long working hours that the parents take in the work results in minimal interaction time with their children. This leads to children lacking the required parental guidance, hence might acquire irresponsible behaviors from other people.

Corruption

Von Drehle’s book address how corrupt the institutions were at that time. Blanck Max and Harris Isaac, facing criminal judgments are freed by the courts after several people died in their factory. This judgment is passed by judges on bail even though there was evidence, that the premise was not well constructed. exit does were lacking apart from the one that employs used. The door was locked always with the perception that it could curb theft by workers. There were no security regulations as required by the law of which they ignored. Therefore the writer is trying to speak on behalf of those who perished in the inferno.

The fact that the author addresses difficulties faced by the immigrants in the factories, still these workers could not have had access to government jobs and their living conditions could have been even worse. Most of the workers were young ladies who came from poor families hence staying without a job would have been worse. In any company long working hours are necessary to increase the company’s capital which will trickle to the workers in turn.From the book, the problem was with the subcontractors who paid less to the workers.

Conclusion

Generally, I feel that David Von Drehle in his book has addressed social problems clearly and logically. He has supported his arguments with many examples from the field. The book is a good one as it shows exactly the social problems faced in different parts of the world. The writer has gone deep into real-life situations. I, therefore, recommend the book addressing social problems.

References

Caviness, R. (2004). A review of the book Triangle: The Fire That Changed America. Web.

D’Orazio, L. (2007). Triangle: The fire that changed America. Web.

Ifill, Gwen (2003).Triangle. A NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript Online NewsHour. Web.

Drehle, Von D. (2004). Triangle: The fire that changed America. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press.

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