Work and Working-Class Life in Literature Anderson

Work and Working-Class Life in Literature Anderson


Below are ten quotations from Part 1 of Ed Park’s novel Personal Days. Write an essay of 2- to 2½-pages that uses four of these passages, plus two that you have found on your own, to describe/explain the experience of Park’s white-collar office workers. Be sure your essay has a thesis statement, but keep your introduction to no more than 2-3 sentences. While I want you to reference four of the passages below (plus two of your own), some of them are a little long, so you should avoid quoting them in their entirety. Use paraphrase and commentary to show that you understand the underlying ideas. Please submit the exam as a word document by the date and time listed above.


“Softball is a morale-boosting carrot that the Sprout most likely has read about in a handbook or learned at that seminar he goes to every March. Morale has been low since the Firings began last year. Pru says morale is a word thrown around only in the context of its absence” (Park 5).


“Despite Maxine’s scatterbrained management style and seeming incompetence, we can’t help but be caught in her spell. . . . . The more she does everything wrong, the more she can do no wrong” (Park 12).


“Our company was once its own thing, founded long ago by men with mustaches. After several decades it wound up, to its surprise, as the easternmost arm of an Omaha-based octopus” (Park 17).


“Last year Jason got fired, right in the middle of a project. No one saw it coming. Crease, who was not on the same team, was told to take over . . . . With no time to move all of Jason’s folders . . . to his own desk, Crease commuted from one side of the office to the other, doing the Jason work until 2 and his own until he left at 7, at 8, at 9” (Park 22).


“We all play the lottery. We buy our tickets individually because we don’t want to divvy up all that loot in case the numbers come up right” (Park 34).


“At noon on Monday the Spout moves Jill to Siberia. It’s a spacious cubicle on the sixth floor, miles from anyone else, next to the door leading to the fire exit” (Park 45)


“Workers from other offices in the building also congregate here to light up, of course, and though at first some of us tried to make small talk, now barely a nod passes between the various factions. They are not like us” (Park 68).


“Work picks up. There’s hardly time to talk. Pru doesn’t think Maxine wants to fire us. She says there’s no way the company can function if they cut anyone else” (Park 72).


“Pru says what we’re doing is constructing a layoff narrative. The idea is that you look back on your period of employment, highlight all the abuses suffered, tally the lessons gained, and use these negatives and positives to mentally withstand what you anticipate will be a series of events culminating in expulsion” (Park 82).


“Jenny feels a chill. She has a sudden premonition that she’ll be moved to Jill’s freshly vacated Siberian desk. In five minutes Jenny looks like she’s lost ten pounds” (Park 84).



Optional Extra Credit:

Choose one of the poems that we read for the last day of class and write a 1½-page essay explicating its meaning through an examination of 4-5 of its images or passages. This essay is worth up to three points (1/3 of a letter grade) added to exam grade.

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