The narrator and protagonist of the book, Barbara Ehrenreich is a middle-aged writer and journalist from Key West, Florida. Relatively well-off, though from a family of humble beginnings, she often uses her personal experience to… read analysis of Barbara Ehrenreich
A patient at the Alzheimer's ward in Maine.
Barbara’s friend and coworker at the Hearthside, who struggles with health issues due to her lack of health insurance.
The hostess at the Hearthside, whom Barbara especially likes since she’s a feminist.
Barbara’s boss and the manager at the Hearthside.
Barbara’s assistant manager at the Hearthside.
The red-faced, bad-tempered cook at the Hearthside, who at $10 an hour makes the most of the other workers and lives in his own trailer.
The teenaged busboy at the Hearthside from Haiti, whom Barbara likes.
The 19-year-old Czech dishwasher at Jerry’s, who has recently immigrated to the United States, and is accused—probably unfairly—of stealing.
Barbara’s moody and unpleasant manager at Jerry’s.
The assistant manager at Jerry’s.
Barbara’s coworker at Jerry’s.
Barbara’s coworker during her brief stint as a housekeeper.
A woman whom Barbara speaks to in her attempt to get food vouchers or aid in Portland.
Another woman whom Barbara calls as she tries to obtain food aid in Portland.
Barbara’s coworker at the Woodcrest Residential Center.
One of the Alzheimer’s patients at Woodcrest.
Another Alzheimer’s patient at Woodcrest.
Barbara’s boss and the franchise owner at The Maids, who is obsessed with the bottom line.
Barbara’s coworker at The Maids, who has been working there for two years and is crushed when Ted doesn’t acknowledge her work on her last day.
One of Barbara’s team leaders at The Maids, who has a bad foot.
Barbara’s coworker at The Maids, who often grows faint from hunger, but who doesn’t seem to appreciate Barbara’s attempts to help her.
One of Barbara’s team leaders at The Maids, who is struggling with childcare issues.
One of Barbara’s coworkers at The Maids, a recent high school grad who only eats half a bag of chips for lunch.
Barbara’s coworker at The Maids.
Another coworker at The Maids.
Another coworker at The Maids.
An apartment manager at the Hopkins Park Plaza in Minneapolis.
The woman who hired Barbara for a job at Wal-Mart, who is careful not to mention wages unless she’s forced to so as to eliminate prospective employees opportunity to compare wages against other options before they start work.
Barbara’s prospective boss at Menards in Minneapolis.
Another prospective supervisor at Menards.
Barbara’s coworker at Wal-Mart, and the one she’s closest to.
The assistant manager at Wal-Mart.
Another manager at Wal-Mart.
A Wal-Mart employee who initially had dreams of going to school while working.
Another Wal-Mart employee, who believes Wal-Mart doesn’t treat its employees well.
A Wal-Mart employee whose salary has gone slightly up after working there for two years.
A Wal-Mart employee who is in the same orientation as Barbara.
The aunt of Barbara’s New York friend. She had moved from New York to Florida to completely start over; she now lives in Minneapolis and offers help and friendship to Barbara.