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Book Review on Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives - Essay Example

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Subject Name Date “How the Other Half Lives” How the other half lives is a good piece of work by Jacob A. Riis as far as conveying the life of the tenements to the people goes. Amongst the outstanding achievements of this book is the fact that it was accredited for being amongst the best and unique works of photojournalism of that time…
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Book Review on Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives
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"Book Review on Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives"

Download file to see previous pages He strongly believed that the upper society can make a strong impact to the lives of these impoverished people and that it was only possible through their support and contribution that the slums of New York could change shape and the people living there could be provided with the basic amenities of life. At the time when this book was written, camera with the flash technology were newly invented, therefore, Jacob A. Riis equipped his book with pictures of the slums because he felt that only words would not have the due impact which the pictures accompanying them would. The book talks about life in tenements. The tenements which were particularly what the author of the book hated about the life that he lived in the slums. In the following quotation from the book the author expresses his reasoning behind the animosity he held against the tenements; “In the tenements all the influences make for evil; because they are the hot-beds of the epidemics that carry death to rich and poor alike; nurseries of pauperism and crime that fill our jails and police courts…” (Riis, 1890). The former statement shows what the author felt about the slums, he felt that the slums were where the crime began, where diseases started from and a breeding ground for many of the vices that existed in the country. The language used in the novel reflects the fact that it was written in the late nineteenth century, the author needs to be given credit for portraying the dialect of many of the minority groups living in the slums of New York with such perfection that while reading the book one feels that one is actually hearing the people of the slums talk instead of just reading. Moreover, the use of imagery is extremely impactful; one’s imagination can instantly picture the landscape and smell the different types of smells that the author has described in the book. The unhygienic feel gets so vivid n one’s memory that one actually feels appalled at the harsh realities of this world and the stark contrast that exists in the living standards of the people living not only in the same country but also in the same city. However, the difficulty with reading the book is that some of the sentences and paragraphs are so long that the author starts by talking about a particular thing and stretches it so much that by the time the paragraph ends he is talking about a different thing which makes it difficult for the reader to keep track of the stated facts. A very central point that has been stressed a lot in the book is that people of different nationalities come and settle in the tenements. These people as stated by the author make their way into metropolitans in search for a chance to make an impact on their lives and those of their families. The author states that if we try to compare the poor Americans to people of other nationalities who come to New York in order to earn and make their lives better, the foreigners make stronger progress in terms of work and careers because they come in search of opportunities and are quick to grab them whenever possible, as opposed to the Americans who would rather wait for the opportunity to come to them as expressed by the following quotation from the novel; “The poorest immigrant comes here with the purpose and ambition to better himself and, given half a chance, might be reasonably expected to make the most of it” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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