The Washwoman - An Upheaval Essay

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Not all people are blessed   with human dignity, but those that are blessed have a certain refinement and class to themselves. We see this in the short stories "The Washwoman" by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and "An Upheaval" written by Anton Chekhov. The washwoman in the story "The Washwoman" washes laundry for families. She's old, sick and all alone. But, she is still strong enough emotionally to stand by the principle of retuning the laundry to its rightful owner within two weeks of picking it up: "She would bring the laundry back about two weeks later." Maskenka in "An Upheaval" is a young governess living in mansion. She leaves the mansion humiliated and degraded after being accused of stealing her employer's brooch. The washwoman and mashenka are faced with dilemmas and both handle themselves with such grace and human dignity.
The washwoman is old, sick and all alone, but the notion of being a burden on other people simply doesn't even enter her mind: "the old woman didn't want to become a burden, and so she bore her burden." Her rich son couldn't tolerate seeing his mother working at such a low job, so he cut off all contact with her. Yet, she wasn't bitter about it:"The woman had a son who was rich. He was ashamed of his mother, and never came to see her. Nor did he ever give her money. The old woman told this without bitterness." Even though her son could've supported her she didn't want to to give up her job and her pride by becoming dependant on him. She could've begged and made money easy, but she chose to work hard by cleaning other people's laundry: "She could've begged at the church door or entered a home for penniless and the aged. But, there was in her a certan pride and love of labor which many of the labor force have been blessed." That's where she took that determination to work so hard from: "laundering was not easy on those days. Only God knows what the old woman had to endure each time she did a wash." This kept her dignity and pride intact. Not...

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