Abraham Cahan's "A Sweatshop Romance".

Topics: Karl Marx, Marxism, Social class Pages: 3 (1067 words) Published: October 16, 2003
In his story "A Sweatshop Romance," Abraham Cahan does a good job of creating a clear visual of the activities that occurred at the coat-making factory of Mr. Leizer Lipman, a Jewish-American who got married to a woman from a poor town in Western Russia. In this story, there are certain propagandistic situations as well as anxieties and concerns that relates to class-consciousness in the twentieth century. According to the story, Mrs. Lipman, the proprietor's wife and a co-owner of the business occupied a low social position at her birthplace compared to some visitors that had recently arrived from her hometown. One day, some visitors were invited to the coat-making factory for an "inspection" of the business. During the visit, Mrs. Lipman was trying to use the business to show off so as to bring herself to an "equal social position" to that of her visitors'; however, some of her employees felt downgraded and insulted by her, and her efforts were thwarted by her employees' refusal to allow themselves to be treated as "servants" in front of the visitors.

As explained in the introductory paragraphs, the business was located in one of the small rooms at the proprietor's home and the employees were a single team that consisted of a sewing-machine operator, a baster, a finisher and a presser. The employees of the "Sweatshop" were not paid based on how many hours they served. They were paid only by how many coats they were able to manufacture. A business week was not seven days; a business week at the "sweatshop" was completed only when eight coats have been successfully produced. The mini firm was mainly involved in coat-production. The writer also paints a picture of the business being located in a cramped up space in the proprietor's home, which in addition to providing "space" for coat-making factory also served as a kitchen as well as a dining room. The cramped and overcrowded space coupled with the blast of thermal energy from the red-hot kitchen stove and the...
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