The Plight of Industrial Workers
X. L Kennedy is an American poet renowned for his captivating piece of work called “The Window Washer’s Death.” In this poem, the author uses harsh words to describe the sorry state of workers in the manufacturing industry. Kennedy chooses to roughly describe the fatal accidents in the industrial sector without comparison to the other divisions. He reveals the mellow mood of the city as the crash occurs. Kennedy’s choice of a window washer to expose the poor working conditions of manufacturing industry is necessary and justified. The job of a window washer is currently rated as the most dangerous job, particularly in the United Kingdom. This article seeks to evaluate the punitive and neglected conditions of the manufacturing industry as espoused in the poem “The Window Washer’s Death.”
The manufacturing sector scenario is explored by the poet by use of words ‘machine ran scores’ and ‘glass’ in the third and the last lines of the poem. The harsh settings of work are extrapolated by the running over of the machine causing cuts and wounds to the falling window washer. The safety belt worn by the window washer seemed weak to have protected him. The belt was, therefore, incapable of defending the man. The second line of the poem reflects this situation. Indeed, most manufacturing industries do not provide proper safety gear to their workers necessary to reduce the risk of occurrence of fatal accidents in the course of duty. The poor conditions, therefore, expose workers to underserved punishment as their lives are given up for the sake of the businesses. The running over of the machine in a manner that left everyone astonished, as expressed in the third line, is a clear indication of brutality of manufacturing industries against its workers.
Manufacturing industry workers play a significant role in changing the economy and the lives of people in the city, but they are never recognized while still alive. The poem reveals a state of confusion within the town as the window washer falls. One can see the lovers cry, the clock standing still, the transportation sector coming to a stop for a while, and nuns backsliding. There are losses in businesses as the broker loses his money in confusion. The scenarios above explain the importance of manufacturing industry workers in ensuring that the economy moves smoothly to the betterment of everyone in the city. But what does window washer get in return for his good service? Neglect and poor conditions as compared to workers in the other jobs.
The window washers’ health and safety is never a priority to their employers, the government, and the public. When relating to line 13 of the poem, X. L Kennedy exposes a scenario of two lovers embracing each other in the pretense of a cry while the window washer lies on the ground. Instead of devising means of saving his life, the lovers choose to embrace themselves and shed crocodile tears. The situation is also similar in line 5 of the poem where the poet uses the words ‘heads stared from every floor.’ The statement indicates that the accident witnesses were only concerned about missing their services, but no one cared about saving the window washer’s life. No one seems to bother picking him up and taking him to the hospital for treatment or even checking whether he is alive or dead. The witnesses directly jump to the conclusion that he is dead. The body is left to rot. Line 8 of the poem informs readers that as the witnesses stared at the body, the flies found a reason for staying alive. Flies survive well where there is dirt and rottenness. The sharp words reveal neglect of the injured manufacturing workers by their employers, the government, and the entire public at large. The life of the window washer, therefore, is meaningless.
The poor conditions are even extended to the families of the deceased manufacturing workers as there are no proper social security schemes for them. The last line of the poem presents a scenario where the town looks beautiful with the bright and shining glasses properly wiped, while the efforts of the window washer go unrewarded. The last line of the poem uses the phrase ‘his legacy is mute.’ The statement implies that the significant role of the window washer is evident, but no one seems to bother about him after his death. Traversed to the manufacturing industry, the statement presupposes that the conditions of the dependents of the deceased are left. The poem points to the neglect of provision of proper social security schemes to the manufacturing workers.
From the above discourse, it is plausible to conclude that there is emaciation of the tremendous efforts of the window washer and by extension to manufacturing industry workers by the beneficiaries of their efforts. The purpose of the poem “The Window Washer’s Death” by X. L Kennedy is, therefore, to enrich literature, which is aimed at exposing the rotten state of the industrial sector as it sacrifices its workers. The industry is only concerned about making profits and not promoting the welfare of its workers. When the workers die, they leave a great vacuum but always go unnoticed. It is, therefore, an awakening call for the government and employers in the industrial sector to make an effort and improve the security of workers.