Working – Cuts of Worker

Stud Terkels’s Working is a novel which has been animated to portray the lives of many workers who have both migrated and naturalized into the United States.  Yet no matter how much they’ve traveled within the United States or have accumulated and toiled their own land, the workers portrayed in this novel all seem to be deeply displaced; in the sense that they feel their feet are planted on solid ground but their bodies are not theirs and they don’t have full control over it.  This sentiment of not being ‘an owner’ of ones own self is due to the idea of working and the effects it has on the body over all.

One illustrated story which strongly emphasizes this point would be Roberto Acuna’s.  As a young boy Roberto would travel with his family from Seattle to California following the seasons crops, living in tents on the outskirts of the town in which they stayed, and would at times work the land from 4 to 6 AM, attend school, and then work the land again from around 3 to 7 PM, sometimes even later.  The most disturbing and intriguing part of this section would be when Roberto argues how well cared for the animals of the farms were in comparison to the workers.  He states “They [the farmers] treated him [the worker] like a farm implement.  In fact they treat their implements better and their domestic animals better.  They have heat and insulated barns for the animals but the workers live in beat up shacks with no heat at all”  (Terkels, 45).  Right next to this paragraph are two images, the outline of cuts of beef and the outline of cuts of worker.  The cuts of beef show readers where the good stuff is like the sirloin, ribs, and flank.  I can’t say the same for the cuts of worker, in that the good stuff comes from them working the land to provide the masses produces such as grapes, strawberries, and avocados.  More importantly though would be the way in which the body is entirely connect from the arms to the legs via what appears to the be the outline of a basket in which has written into this area ‘crops = big $’ (Terkels, 45).  This particular moment works to emphasize the point that the body is not ones own property, but rather is a commodified tool to provide solely for the pleasure (and in this case nutrition) of others.  The imagery of the cuts work to emphasize how the nutrition of provided by a human being, but when one is consuming said foods and produces the thought of the work that went behind collecting all the food does not come to mind.  Rather people just think that their eating healthier.

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