Analysis on the book Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is a deep, well-written historical fiction novel on girls and women in the shirtwaist strike of 1909-10. She creatively made the first and last chapters present time, making the middle a whole flashback although it was not all in one perspective. There were impressive dissimilarity between the poor and the rich, and there were reformers wanting a change. At a time when large amounts of foreigners were pouring into the United States, looking for a better chance of staying alive, Americans were uncertain about being responsive to the newcomers.
From this piece of history, Haddix decided to create three fictional characters with fictional lives living at that time. The three girls’ fictional lives were probably very similar to any other girls’ in the New York Shirtwaist strike of 1909, which is what she was going for. The message shown throughout this book is very clear because of her well-chosen craft choices. Because of the three different perspectives, a Jewish girl, an Italian girl, and an American girl, readers really get to understand what it is like walking in different girls’ shoes at a really rough time. The middle piece of the novel (the flashback) is in not one, not two, but three perspectives.
The perspectives change by chapter, having the characters’ name as a subtitle. The three characters were “Bella and Yetta and Jane,” as little Harriet, the little girl Jane was being a governess to, would say. Three girls from different parts of the world all come together in one city in New York. Bella, a girl who came to America in hope for a good-paying job to support her family back in Italy who need money to survive hunger. Yetta, a jewish girl who escaped a war in her hometown, leaving with her sister, wanting to break the tradition of the women.
And Jane, who is similar to Yetta, yet she is rich because of her factory-owning father. She runs away to live with Bella and Yetta after realising that she could be independent and never depend on her father again. Bella and Yetta are strikers, and they earn money from the Union, a company who helps strikers. Jane does not have a job until she realises she needs to do something other than watch Bella and Yetta work. Yetta recommends being a governess to her boss’ kids. Harriet and Millicent.
All three girls have so much hope, thriving to meet their goals, but the Union changes their mind about something, and the girls can do nothing but work again in the shirtwaist factory. The factory that crumbles all three girls’ lives forever. Haddix used a very formal way of writing the book, the reason for why that was done is because the setting of the book was back in the early 1900’s, where everything was mostly proper and had barely any slang. “The automobile was really only inching along..
.”(152). At a later time, nearer to this date, we would just say car, or auto. Another craft she used was using hyphens whenever a character’s speech was cut off during dialogue. “‘It’s about that poor Italian girl-‘”(153).
Haddix also made sure to include many descriptions, which were to really set your feet in that setting, in that moment, at that time. “Men on the sidewalk waved their hats at her; women and children clapped.”(153). Whenever a character was thinking, the words would be in italics to show you the difference. “Oh, Mama-across-the-ocean, she thought.
“(31). An important craft she used was dialogue. Dialogue is important because it makes everything seem realer. “‘My mother loved me,’ she said. ‘My father-I don’t know.
It never really seemed like it.’ That was hard to admit…”(221) Most of the figurative language Margaret used was hiperboles, metaphors, and similes.
For example, a hyperbole; “…four hundred girls would have little more power than four hundred fleas.”(35). Another example; a metaphor; “Indeed.
Some mornings, lying in bed, Jane could just feel all sorts of chances slipping away.”(112). The book takes place in New York in the early 1900’s which affects the story greatly. “She laughed, suddenly giddy, and scrambled into the car with her friends.”(151). This quote from the book shows you that to ride in a car was a privilege not only because cars were new and not everyone could have one, but also because not many people could afford it.
Another setting element that affects the book is the factory. “The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was at the top of a ten-story building. Bella froze on the sidewalk for a moment, looking up and up and up. It made her dizzy to bend her head back so far. This was like staring at the mountains back home, except the mountains sloped down gradually, and the Triangle building shot up straight from the ground to the sky, its sheer, steep walls blocking out the sun.” (17).
As you can see, it was a very terrifying thing for Bella, and with many immigrant workers in the same building made it even more tough. Yet Bella did it because she knew she had to save her family, sacrificing herself. Other important settings are the Luciano house and tenement building. Signor and Signora Luciano let Bella and her cousin, Pietro, stay with them in their home. Although they are not very nice people, to Bella and Pietro; it is better than nothing.
Signor and Signora Luciano have workers in their house that make the fake flowers for hats. It is a very crowded space which affects Bella’s comfort. Yetta was the first of the three girls to be in the strike. She is brave, strong, determined. Jane, who had heard about women trying to finally have rights, was second to be in the strike.
Jane is a loving, rebellious, risk-taker. And Bella, having been lied to and had her trust scarred, was the last to join after finding out someone had betrayed her. She is a dreamer, she is curious, she is hard-working, and she is selfless. All the girls together make a great team, supporting each other. “She had Yetta and Jane. Her comari.
“(234). The events of the strike, of the uprising, up to the fire of March 25, 1911 were all very tragic. Makes you grateful for living in this century and not theirs. Makes you grateful they fought for us women’s rights.