Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
Marrin tells the harrowing account of the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in 1911 that killed 146 people. Entwined is the story of immigration in early 20th-century America and of the hard work to make it in a new country.
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Prelude From the Ashes
The author starts his prelude, or introduction, with a detailed description of a beautiful day in New York City. Then he alludes to an upcoming tragedy. This type of contrast is an example of juxtaposition.
Left click a word with your mouse or press a word with your finger for a second to use the define feature or add your own annotations. (When a given definition does not seem to fit the context of the reading, then you will want to use the "search Wikipedia or Google this word" option within the "define" feature in order to explore other definitions.)
Which of the following is not an example of a "push," or reason to leave one's homeland?
Note that the author is emphasizing the statistics. America's east coast experienced a major influx of immigrants in a relatively short span of time. Think about what this means in terms of housing, employment opportunities, schooling, social interactions, etc.
Children could work legally, at any age, in any conditions, for as many hours per day as necessary, until the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. Think about how recent that is. Would your grandparents have been child laborers? Your great-grandparents?
The author is using a series of rhetorical questions as a form of structure which prepares the reader for what is to come.
I. Huddled Masses
The author uses an anecdote to begin the first paragraph in chapter one. This is a common technique to hook the readers' interest.
Which groups predominantly made up the new immigrants that migrated to the United States beginning in the 1880s?
It seems apparent that Italy faced a perfect storm of conditions that triggered a massive migration to the U.S. There were natural disasters (pushes) as well as a desire for better opportunities (pulls).
What was the driving force behind the Russian Jews' migration to the United States?
The czars' treatment of Jews is similar to how the U.S. Government dealt with Native Americans.
How was the anti-Semitism in Russia different from other countries?
In the cartoon illustrating the plight of the Jews in Russia, does the artist effectively convey his message? Support your response with evidence.
According to Wikipedia, the 1821 Odessa pogroms marked the start of the nineteenth century wave of pogroms in the Russian empire, with further pogroms in Odessa (now in Ukraine) in 1859. However, the period 1881–1884 was a peak period, with over 200 anti-Jewish events occurring in the Russian Empire, notably Warsaw pogrom (1881), Kishinev pogrom (1903), Kiev Pogrom (1905), and Białystok pogrom (1906), and, after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Lwów pogrom (1918) and Kiev Pogroms (1919).
Which type of figurative language is illustrated in the highlighted text?
The author uses figurative language to help readers picture in their minds the harsh conditions of an Atlantic sea voyage. View the video below for a more detailed description of similes. (This annotation contains a video)
II. Into the Magic Cauldron
"The American Dream" for immigrants came to a crashing halt when they actually arrived at Ellis Island as is illustrated in the highlighted paragraph.
According to the text, why did cities become centers for the Industrial Revolution?
The image below shows the New York City skyline in 1913. (This annotation contains an image)
"Street dust" killed dozens of people each year. What caused this dust in the cities?
The picture below was one of the first pictures taken of the New York subway in 1904. (This annotation contains an image)
How did landlords maximize their profits by taking advantage of the large influx of immigrants? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
The conditions in the first tenements were very poor. When the first tenements were built, there were almost no law regulations. Laws enacted in the 1860's (the old las-tenements) mandated fire escape but little else (Wikipedia).
How did Jacob Riis help immigrants?
The highlighted text is an example of an idiom. An idiom is a figure of speech that is not meant to be taken literally.
According to the text, what were movie theaters also called in the 1920s?
The image below was taken by a photojournalist who was chronicling life in the Bowery. (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz #1: Chapters 1 & 2
III. Flesh and Blood So Cheap
America has a long history of using immigrants to build their mass transit systems. The Intercontinental Railway, for instance, was predominantly built by Chinese immigrants.
Why was Chazir-mark an ironic name for the market on Hester Street?
What historical event led to the opportunity for people to buy clothes "off the rack"?
It seems like the materialism that is prevalent today took root with the advent of ready-made clothes.
Explain why good cutters were worth their weight in gold? Include details from the text to support your answer.
Today, the Department of Labor indicates that 50% of garment factories in the U.S. violate two or more basic labor laws, establishing them as sweatshops. Typical sweatshop employees, ninety percent of whom are women, are young and uneducated. Many of them are recent or undocumented immigrants who are unaware of their legal rights. Young women throughout the world are subject to horrible working conditions and innumerable injustices because corporations, many of which are U.S.-owned, can get away with it (Wikipedia).
Which college was known as the "Jewish Harvard" in New York?
Jacob Riis uses vivid imagery in his description of sweatshops so that the reader can picture it in their minds. Please view the video below for a more detailed explanation of imagery. (This annotation contains a video)
Explain why employees saw factory work as a blessing and a curse. Support your response with textual evidence.
It's too bad that bosses were not privy to research, which shows music can make workers happy and more inclined to work hard and come up with a good product. Listening to music can release the chemical dopamine in our brain which can give us a euphoric feel, and focus better on work.
IV. An Overflow of Suffering: The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand
What did workers do to try and balance the power between owners and employees?
Unions probably would have never materialized if owners would have just treated their employees fairly. The image below depicts several union labels. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is it ironic that owners hired "fancy ladies" to break picket lines? Support your response with details from the text.
The immigrants seem to rely on song to both lift their moods and express their difficult circumstances.
The highlighted text is an example of which type of figurative language?
The author ends this paragraph with a rhetorical question to help build suspense.
According to the text, why would a general strike be the riskiest move imaginable?
The successful strike marked an important milestone for the American labor movement, and especially for garment industry unions. In addition, Clara Lemlich became a minor star; three novels published soon after the strike had protagonists with her name (Wikipedia).
Which form of media did workers use to gain public support?
Hiring black women as scabs looks like another attempt by owners to pit one disadvantaged group against another. This tactic is similar to how they used prostitutes to break picket lines.
Some people viewed the Uprising of the Twenty Thousand as a _________ movement.
According to Wikipedia, Anne Tracy Morgan was the daughter of the most powerful financier in America's history, J.P. Morgan. Born on July 25, 1873, Anne Morgan grew up in her family's New York estate, and was schooled both at home and in private schools.
According to the author, why did some wealthy supporters lose interest in the strike?
It's interesting how some owners were more concerned about their image than making concessions to employees.
Quiz #2: Chapters 3 & 4
V. The Third Gate: Fire at the Triangle
Below are images that were in the New York Herald the day after the Triangle Fire. (This annotation contains an image)
Why were cotton mills fire traps?
Describe what most likely caused the Triangle Fire. Support your answer with textual evidence.
The author uses a lot of metaphorical language to help the reader picture what is was like to be trapped in the building during the fire.
Who were the firefighters unable to save?
Since this fire took place before TV media, it was up to the news reporters to paint pictures of the events that they reported on so that readers could visualize what they read.
After watching the 9/11 video clip below, what similarities do you notice between that tragic event and the Triangle Fire.
The video clip below describes the collapse of the first tower on 9/11. (This annotation contains a video)
VI. A Stricken Conscience
According to the author, why were the police officers at the scene so deeply affected by the Triangle Fire?
Below, “Misery Lane” is pictured. The makeshift morgue is where city officials routinely brought victims of lethal disasters. (This annotation contains an image)
Why did the Yiddish poet depict factory owners as golden princes?
How is Rose Schneiderman described by the author? Include details from the text to support your response.
How was Smith different from most former New York politicians?
This court decision seems to show that most New York citizens had a lack of empathy for immigrant workers.
Silent Charlie Murphy gave his blessing to the creation of a _____________.
This was a significant shift in the political power structure. Prior to this time, those in political power always sided with wealthy factory owners. Al Smith was the first true advocate for the poor.
Which of the examples below was one of the laws that was passed to protect workers and the public?
VII. The Price of Liberty
At first, it appears as though the author is setting his reader up for bad news by using generalizations about "nothing staying the same." The reader must wonder if the lasting effects of the Triangle Fire weren't so long lasting.
What type of figurative language was the author using when he described the labor strike as "total war"?
The U.S. Armed Forces grew from 458,000 servicemen in 1940 to 1.8 million in 1941. By 1945 there were 12.9 million Americans in the armed services.
Summarize the sequence of events which led to organized crime heading both unions as well as textile manufacturers. Use details from the text to support your response.
Why was it a bad idea to hire gangsters to settle labor disputes? Support your response with evidence from the text.
The author mentioned several contributing factors that led to 95% of clothing purchased by Americans coming from overseas by 2009. Which of the following was not among those reasons?
This is another example of juxtaposition. Clearly this labor rights activist is leery that history will repeat itself, which unfortunately you will find, as you read on, does happen.
The reporter's argument seems valid until you consider the laws of supply and demand. Increases in demand lead to increases in supply. Whether more laborers are hired or personal quotas are increased to meet this demand, it is not very probable that employers would all of the sudden share the wealth by improving working conditions or offering pay raises.
In the highlighted passage, the author points out that workers in developing countries today are similar to the immigrants described in the text. Explain whether or not this is a valid claim and support your answers with textual evidence.
Quiz #3: Chapters 5-7