Why We Need Blue-collar Workers Essay Example

Our Society cannot properly function without blue-collar workers. The essay, "Year of the Blue-Collar Guy" written by Steve Olson, addresses stereotypes about blue-collar workers. Olson is an American construction worker who seeks to persuade white-collar workers to respect blue-collar workers. A blue-collar worker is someone who performs manual labor in occupations such as a construction worker, welder, or plumber. A white-collar worker is someone who has a professional occupation such as a lawyer, engineer, or architect. Throughout Olson's essay, he discusses stereotypical definitions of blue-collar workers and includes his own definitions of blue-collar workers and white-collar workers. The author provides the audience with several examples portraying the incredible strength and hard work commonly required by blue-collar workers to illustrate that blue-collar workers are the reason society enjoys various conveniences. Olson inspires emotional responses in the audience to persuade them to agree with his argument. Olson uses the rhetorical pattern definition, examples as a rhetorical device, and pathos as a rhetorical appeal to convince the audience to honor blue-collar workers.

Blue-collar Worker Definition

Olson uses the rhetorical pattern definition to organize the information in his essay and to explain that blue-collar workers deserve honor. Initially, Olson provides a stereotypical definition of a blue-collar worker as "beer-drinking, big-bellied, bigoted rednecks who dress badly" (1). He also states that people tend to view a blue-collar worker as a person with a "dead-end job" (8). The author includes stereotypical definitions to influence the audience to recognize the false portrayals of blue-collar workers. Olson defines his view of blue-collar workers as the romantic heroes of America (3). He further defines them as a "great skilled workforce" (8) that is the "last vestige of the manly world where strength, skill, and hard work are still valued" (3). His personal definition of blue-collar workers encourages the readers to look beyond the derogatory stereotypes of blue-collar workers and view them as heroes with remarkable skills and strengths who contribute abundantly to society. On the other hand, Olson defines a white-collar worker as a person who wears a suit to work and makes "six-digit unearned incomes doing the same work women can do" (3). He also defines a white-collar worker as a man who can "sit and ponder and comment and write without producing a usable product or skill" (4). The author's various definitions of a white-collar worker instruct the audience that while white-collar workers sit leisurely in a comfortable office, blue-collar workers use their skills and strength to ensure "Our plumbing works, our phones work, and repairs are made as quickly as humanly possible" (8). The author's use of definitions allows the audience to recognize that blue-collar workers earn respect for keeping society functioning in an efficient manner. Olson's use of the rhetorical pattern definition to delineate clear differences between blue-collar workers and white-collar workers is effective because it encourages the readers to realize that the disparaging stereotypes of blue-collar workers are not accurate. These comprehensive and persuasive definitions depict a compelling description to clarify the audience's understanding of blue-collar workers.

The Rhetorical Issues About the Importance of Blue-collar Work

In addition, Olson uses examples as a rhetorical device to influence white-collar workers to respect blue-collar occupations. Olson includes an example of blue-collar workers that "hand-nail 20 square of shingles (that's 6,480 nails) or more a day, day after day, for weeks. At the same time, they were remodeling their houses, raising children, and coaching Little League" (5). He also provides an example of a middle aged blue-collar worker who easily carries a 350-pound section of rubber roofing up a ladder and onto a roof (6). These descriptive examples allow the audience to visualize the incredible strength and energy often required by blue-collar workers in order for them to fulfill their physically demanding duties. The examples Olson includes support his argument that blue-collar workers are important because they use immense energy and strength that has "transformed lines on paper into physical reality" (9). The author's use of descriptive examples serve as a reminder that the conveniences people often take for granted, such as roofs that do not leak, efficient electricity, and indoor plumbing, are possible due to the skills of blue-collar workers. The examples encourage the readers to realize that blue-collar workers are the reason white-collar workers are able to perform their professional jobs. In essence, white collar workers cannot drive on paved roads, work in air-conditioned buildings, or enjoy other conveniences without the help of blue-collar workers. Because he utilizes supporting examples, he effectively convinces the audience to view blue-collar occupations with respect and not merely as a "temporary summer job" (8). His examples provide strong evidence that when blue-collar workers "use both brain and body there is a product - a physical result of which to be proud" (9). Olson's use of compelling examples as a rhetorical device accomplishes his purpose to persuade white-collar workers to respect blue-collar workers.

Furthermore, Olson uses pathos as a rhetorical appeal to elicit emotional responses in the readers and convince them that blue-collar workers are essential to society. Olson explains that he has witnessed blue-collar workers "frame entire houses in a day - day after day" and "finish concrete until 11 P.M., go out on a date, then get up at 6 A.M. and do it all over again the next day" (5). These statements appeal to the audience's emotions and inspires them to feel sympathy for the exhausting schedule of many blue-collar workers. Olson's use of pathos persuades the readers to feel sorrow for the manual labor blue-collar workers perform that is "hard, hot, wet, cold, and always dirty" (9). The audience realizes that the labor of blue-collar workers allows society to enjoy certain luxuries such as suitable housing, paved roads, heating, and cooling. At the end of his essay, Olson states, "We have fallen from your roofs, died under heavy equipment, and been entombed in your dams. We have done honest, dangerous work" (9). This statement elicits a feeling of pity for blue-collar workers because of the dangerous and sometimes deadly tasks blue-collar workers perform. The author's use of the word "your" is effective as it urges the readers to feel like blue-collar workers suffer personally for them. Because he includes this pathos at the conclusion of his essay, the audience leaves with a feeling of compassion for blue-collar workers and the audience is more likely to accept his argument that blue-collar workers deserve respect for performing strenuous work. Olson uses pathos as a powerful appeal to enhance his position that blue-collar workers merit the respect of society.


As shown in the essay, "Year of the Blue-Collar Guy," Steve Olson's impressive use of rhetorical devices convinces the audience that blue-collar work is an honorable and prestigious trade. Olson's exceptional use of the rhetorical pattern definition persuades the readers to renounce the improper stereotypes of blue-collar workers. He repeatedly defines blue-collar workers and white-collar workers throughout his essay to solidify the audience's understanding of the definitions. His descriptive examples provide evidence of the strength and energy of blue-collar workers. The author's use of examples as a rhetorical device encourages the audience to honor blue-collar workers. His utilization of pathos as a rhetorical appeal elicits a strong emotional response from the readers to make his argument that blue-collar workers deserve respect more believable. Overall, Olson accomplishes the purpose of his essay because he successfully persuades white-collar workers that blue-collar workers are remarkably important to society. As a result reading this essay, I realize that rhetorical devices can function as a powerful technique to convince the audience to change their point of view.


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