Industrialized Youth Without Perspective

In Maybew’s work, he describes the somewhat disturbing lack of youth in industrialized London. In one particular interview, the first in this selection, a female child of eight years old states, “I ain’t a child and I shan’t be a woman till I’m a twenty”. This suggests that there was no childhood for the poor children of London due to industrialization. There seems to be some evidence to suggest that other children had different luxuries; for instance, she same child says, “Besides it’s like a child to care for sugar-sticks and not like one who’s got a living”. I have no doubt that certain children did not have this level of workload or lack o luxury. However, I think it is truly impossible for us, as modern readers, to ascertain the true nature and perspective of this piece. In this time period, life for all individuals was much harder than we could imagine in our technological advanced world. In addition, the much stunted lifespans of individuals also contributed to a lack of what we know as a childhood for everyone. Even the most privileged of children, royals, were forced to take the throne and reign over countries as quick as their early teens. Therefore an argument could also be made that there was a lack of childhood for them as well, yet in a vastly different way in the one presented here. I guess my point is, without proper context, it’s hard to know if poverty and industrialization were truly the killers of youth in this time period, as is suggested. It would be really helpful to have materials or accounts of children from different classes to compare.


One thought on “Industrialized Youth Without Perspective

  1. Going along with what you said about an absence of youth, I think that the children living during the Industrial Revolution did not have the chance to act like children. Growing up in the Twentieth Century, kids have toys and play after school, even during school, and cannot even be considered to have a part time job until the age of 14 or 16. While at the age of 8 we can play outside and go to school while our parents work, the Watercress Girl had to “take care of a baby… till it could walk.” Imagining a child watch a baby today, or even hold it while standing on tile or hardwood floors, is hard to consider. The responsibilities this girl had before she even turned 8 is so unlike what we know, that it’s difficult to grasp a world without being a teenager, or having a childhood before reaching adulthood.

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