Society is made up of different social classes; the upper class, middle class, and lower class (Berlin, 2009). A larger population belongs to the middle class in most developed countries like the US. This does not mean that there is no lower class level in such developed nations. There are a number of people still struggling to secure better life in their own country; the case has been majorly associated with the immigrants who find it difficult to obtain new life along with good life. This paper will give a contrast between two characters in two articles Angela Whitikers Climb by Isabel Wilkerson and 15 Years on the Bottom Rung by Anthony Depalma. In the article Angela Whitikers Climb Angela goes through difficult experiences while trying to secure a better life for herself and her five children in her native country, whereas in the article 15 Years on the Bottom Rung the Mr. Peralta goes through different hard experiences in securing a better life in an alien country.
The characters in the two articles have different citizenship backgrounds. Angela is African-American with US citizenship whereas Mr. Peralta is an American with Mexican citizenship. African-Americans faced a lot of challenges after the slavery period in America trying to make a living (Berlin, 2009). Angela is from Chicago and that is where she has grown up whereas Peralta is in US illegally because he does not have any legal papers that allow them to stay in the country. The article Angela Whitikers climb introduces us to Angela on her normal struggle and we are only told that she has been there for the past 38 years but we are not told any other place apart from Chicago she has moved to. All her predicaments revolve around the one state. However, the article 15 Years on the Bottom Rung introduces us to two major characters of the story who are not citizens of US like Angela. John Zannikos and Manuel Peralta are friends and workmates with root from Mexico and they are immigrant in US. The two works in a restaurant, 3 Guys where they obtain their means of survival. Mr. Peralta says that People come here and in no time than a year or two they can buy their house or have a car (Antony, 2005: 7); with him he has spent almost 15 years and nothing he has achieved. Mr. Zannikos has been in the US for more than 40 years while his friend and partner in business, Mr. Peralta has been in the country for over a decade and the two has gone through a lot trying to make a living. What worries is that the immigrants are in the country illegally and they spend most of their time hiding from the authority.
Angela enjoys some privileges of being a citizen of US whereas Mr. Peralta has to incur some extra costs to live almost the same way a survivor citizen of US may live. Angela finds a way to make a change in her life as she once wished of. Mr. Peralta does not find any way out because first he is in the country illegally and secondly he does not have the credentials that can guarantee him a good job. Mr. Peralta says that he cannot file a complaint against his landlord for charging him $500 a month for a 9-foot-by-9-foot room (Antony, 2005: 9). Immigrants fear of fighting for their rights because they think that they might be caught by the authorities. Unlike the citizens like Angela, they can make a move to change their status because they have legal status in the country. Immigrants are overexploited by the US citizens because there is nothing they can do. For example, when Mr. Peralta says that he cannot file a complaint against his landlord for overcharging the house, he means that there is nothing he can do to get his rightful status.
Angela is ambitious and hopeful that one day she would become who she wanted despite the challenges she undergoes through, whereas, Mr. Peralta is hopeless and has some doubts about what he wants and whether he will achieve it. Angela says before she attends the4 interview that if she passed the test and get registered in the nurse school she will become the person she once wanted; she could get a car..she could get an A.T.M card and balance her checkbook (Wilkerson, 2005: 103). Angela realizes her dream when she becomes a nurse and works as a nurse at an inner hospital on the south side (Wilkerson, 2005: 119). Her work changed her life because she could afford most of the things she never had before she joined the nursing college. Mr. Peralta is just depending on his employer, Mr. Zannikos who has been very good to him allowing him to work in his restaurant despite being in the country illegally. He has a lot of burden on him; he has a wife and two kids and yet he does not have any permanent guaranteed job. Angela on the other hand at least has something that can assure her of better future life, nursing education.
Angela is consumed with emotional frustrations at her young age and lacked proper parenthood whereas Mr. Peralta has spent some good time with his parents and he only left to New York when he was over eighteen years. For example, Angela only remembers meeting her father when she was ten and she never had good time with him either. As a result she got confused in the process of finding emotional comforts and she ends up getting pregnant at the age of 15 because she lacked proper parental guidance. On the other hand, Mr. Peralta left his home in Mexico at the age of 19. At this age, Mr. Peralta had known how to survive and as his life shows he could have lived better life if only he could find US citizenship because he was guided by ethical principles of life. He gets married at the age of 34 years, whereas Angela never got married but had 5 children with different men; the teenage girl who grew up too fast, dropped out in 10th grade, and landed aimlessly and on public assistance with five children by nearly as many men (Wilkerson, 2005: 103).
In conclusion, success depends on hard work and commitment one places on his/her ambitions. One might have good dreams but without hard work and serious commitment, the dreams cannot be achieved. Angela still has hope for brighter future because she worked hard to get educated. Despite the fact that she has not accumulated any wealth, she has hope that at least her children will make a difference from her experience.
Berlin, Ira. Many thousands gone: The first two centuries of slavery in North America. Harvard University Press, 2009.DePalma, Anthony. "Years on the Bottom Rung." New York Times (2005): 15
Wilkerson, Isabel. "Angela Whitiker's climb." New York Times (2005): 103-123.
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