Many people in today’s society find themselves guilty of believing the common misconception that money can buy happiness.
They go to school to become a doctor, lawyer, or other high paying job, with money and social status as their only incentives. Many will find that they have fallen into a trap, when they start earning their large salary, but still are not happy.While there were many messages present throughout Studs Terkels Working: a graphic adaptation, the most important reoccurring message seemed to be that having pride and dignity as well as working at a job that fulfills one’s life passion or is simply enjoyable are more important qualities than earning a large salary and having a high rank on the social ladder.
The interaction of words and images facilitates a pull of emotions out of the reader, thus making his messages about work, including why money does not buy happiness, more clear and powerful.The message that working at a job that one enjoys is one of the best ways to live a happy and fulfilling life is depicted in many of the interviews both through the text and the visuals. The people in the book that dreaded going to work every day and didn’t have any passion about what they did had a very different voice than people who did. The overall tone and mood of their interviews based on the visual and textual connections, was depressing, as opposed to the others who enjoyed their job, which were much more cheery and uplifting to read. For example, Brett Hauser hates his job and dreads going to work every single day.He complains about every aspect of the job from his boss to his coworkers. He explains how he hates how “everybody was putting everybody down” and how his boss actually made him feel guilty for taking his break (71).
The visuals really help depict the hatred and negativity of the supermarket where he works, illustrating him with a constantly unhappy and angry look on his face. When he talks about how everyone puts everyone else down, a picture of him is shown with his head down and hand on his forehead, looking extremely worn down and stressed (71).Overall the monologue uses the text and visuals to portray the message that if a person has such a dreadful job and can’t stand going to work every day, he or she is going to be extremely unhappy. Another clear example that uses a connection between visuals and the text to illustrate that working a job merely for the money will not provide happiness is Beryl Simpson’s interview about being an airline reservationist.
Beryl Simpson “hated it with a passion getting sick in the morning, going to work feeling ‘OH MY GOD! I’ve got to go to work’” (122).A visual shows her struggle of trying to get out of bed to go to a job that she hates. Her face looks wrinkled, worn down, and depressed (122). Beryl admits that when she was working for the airline she had a high status and “was always introduced as Beryl Simpson who works for the airline” (124). However this high status did not provide her with happiness. She felt as if she was a computer when she went to work and had no free-will. This repetitive work that she hated wore away at her, and even though it provided her with a salary and high status, she was not genuinely happy.
In contrast to Brettr Hauser and Beryl Simpson’s interviews, John Fuller’s interview displays the message of the book in the opposite way. His voice and the overall tone are very positive, even though he is working a job that pays a very low salary. There are a lot of exclamation points in the text that help portray his enthusiasm towards being a mail carrier. He seems extremely happy with his job exclaiming “I’m doing a job that’s my life’s ambition! This is a profession that everyone has looked up to. Everyone likes to receive mail! ” (59).The cartoons drawn in the monologue also match the voice of the reader, showing him always delivering the mail with a smile on his face.
Even though he has to work two jobs and have his wife work, just to support his family, the visuals still show him looking upbeat and passionate about delivering the mail. The interaction between the text and the visuals greatly contribute to the happy tone of the monologue, and also add meaning to the message that even though John doesn’t earn a lot of money, overall he is happy and content with his life because he is doing something he loves.Another example that does a great job of illustrating the main message of the book is Dolores Dante’s monologue about being a waitress.
Unlike the monologue about John Fuller where being a mail man is his life’s ambition, Dolores Dante becomes a waitress because she needs money, but winds up making the best out of the situation, and really enjoying her job. Dolores explains in her monologue that people would look down upon her for being a waitress and would be genuinely surprised when they realized what a great person she was, making comments such as “You’re great, how come you’re just a waitress? ” (77).These comments would always infuriate her because she has a lot of pride and dignity about being a waitress. This is evident in the text when Dolores makes comments like “I don’t want to change the job. I love it. ”, and also in the visuals which depicted Dolores as a very strong and opinionated woman (77). While people attempted to demean her for being a waitress, Dolores illustrates the major theme that pride is more important than a social ranking.
One of the strongest monologues that stood out in Working was Bill Talcott, the organizer because of the immense amount of passion he had for his job.Throughout the monologue, Talcott’s voice is extremely powerful. Right from the very beginning he says “When people ask me, ‘why are you doing this? ’ it’s like asking what kind of sickness you got.
I don’t feel sick. I think this country is sick” (27). His tone is serious in explaining that this is the job he has chosen because he feels that strongly that there needs to be change. As he continues on in the monologue his voice and the illustrations become somewhat humorous; For example, when he explains how he “…got involved with the farm workers movement. He’d] give speeches on a box in front of the Commons. Then [he’d go out and fight jocks behind the gym for an hour and a half. HAH! ” (30).
The illustrations also match his humorous voice at certain parts throughout the monologue. The theme that having passion for what you do is clearly evident through the powerful mood and tone illustrated by the image and the text, making me as a reader want to actually do something about the injustice. Overall, many monologues throughout Studs Terkel’s book, Working, display a clear and powerful message about work.Work is something a person has to do for his or her entire life, and therefore it should be enjoyable and make that person feel satisfied.
If a person does something he or she hates every single day, eventually the money isn’t going to be worth it and the result is discontent. Only passion, dignity, and overall enjoyment of one’s job will lead to true happiness. This message is very strong throughout the entire book and the visual and textual connection adds to the power by allowing the reader to picture themself in the actual situation and feel the emotions of the storyteller.