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The Sandwich Factory

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The Sandwich Factory
A: Write an Essay
The central theme of the short story The Sandwich Factory is the mechanization of the workers/ humans at the factory. The story takes place in 1994 at a sandwich factory, where we meet the narrator who works there. Through him we get the impression that the employees are no longer considered humans or individuals, but almost nearly as machines, and he realizes that he doesn't want to be a part of this development.
The narrator of the story is a 1st person narrator who restricts his own view to the factory. It is important that we hear his thoughts and his opinion, and that doesn't mean that we a 100% can rely on what he tells - in particular in some of the descriptions of the characters. The narrator mentions his Joy Division records, his Camuls novels and the novel Confessions of a Mark. This indicates that he is an intelligent man and in addition it also indicates that he probably is a student who has taken a low-paid job to make some money.
Through the narrator we get a very negative impression of the factory. The factory itself seems like a ‘typical’ factory where the employees sit at the conveyor belt day after day, doing the same thing. This monotonous type of work is sure to affect a person at some point, for example Dot, who is a contrast to the narrator. Dot has been at the factory long enough to have lost a great part of her identity and human qualities. She has become a victim of the factory and this assertion is based on the fact that she involves in the narrator’s life when she tries to be a matchmaker because she doesn’t understand why the narrator is not acting like the other workers. Being denied the right to have human needs is sure to drive a person crazy at some point. The mad kid is a perfect example of the human mechanization at the factory. “I worked at a sandwich factory where a mad kid worked. He would leer through a hatch and wave a knife at me" (Line 2-3). Madman emphasizes the madness at the factory and he has become a "product" of it.
The managers of the factory don't respect the workers and it seems like they treat them like robots who works monotonously by the conveyer belt. "Locked doors were a feature of the sandwich factory. The managers would lock everyone in if we were behind schedule or there was a larger order than usual" (Line 66-67). The employees have nothing to say and it seems like they ate being treated like slaves. The managers also divide the workers in groups and mark them as the "good" ones and the "poor" ones and it emphasizes that the workers are not treated like individuals.
The narrator gets affected by the manager’s harsh treatment of the workers. “I entertained a vision of one day being rich and hiring a bunch of faded paunchy managers (…) I’d yell in the megaphone…” (Line 59-60 and 64). He begins to imagine himself being rich and being in charge some day and loves the thought of being the boss and treat the managers the same way they treat him and the workers. The managers treat the workers in the factory as emotionless objects that are easily exploited for their own self-interest. An example of that is in the end of the story when the narrator faints by the conveyor belt and where he imagines a manager saying: “Make sure he doesn’t stagger into a machine and kill himself. We don’t need a lawsuit.” (Line 124-125). This indicates as I mentioned before that the managers only think about themselves and don’t treat the employees as human beings and this becomes the last straw for the narrator. He is lucky to escape and avoid ending up like Dot and Madman.
There is no sunshine or sign of freedom in the story, where lots of people work like robots. Consequently, working at a factory can be dangerous because you lose your identity, feelings, fantasies and last but not least you risk to become almost mechanical and sometimes go insane because of the monotonous work and bad treatment. By using figures of speech Dickens is able to create an imagination in our heads of this terrible town. Coketown represents the negative aspects of the industrial revolution. The town is portraying the pollution, ugliness, monotony, and health-destroying aspects of the industrial revolution. Through the description of Coketown Dickens is succeeded in creating a picture of this awful town that is covered by clouds of smoke, an image that creates a dark and very negative atmosphere. Dickens uses an evil image that expresses that something evil hovers over Coketown: It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves forever and ever…” (Line 3-4.) The serpents are negative and they can also be a symbol of sin and immorality and in general serpents are often combined with something negative. Furthermore he uses figure of speech to describe the piston of the steam-engine. “…worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness.” (Line 7-8). Through this figure of speech he shows the tremendous amounts of energy and strength trapped in meaningless repetitive activity and in addition it also indirectly sums up the life at the factory. Consequently by using figures of speech Dickens is able to make the text more interesting and create a very dramatic and negative atmosphere in Coketown and furthermore by using the metaphors he manages to create images in the reader’s head which underlines how horrible this town is.

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