Reality Of Youth: An Examination Of Mayhew’s “Watercress Girl” Essay

The Watercress Girl had no education because her mother pulled her out of school due to the master laying whacking her. She states that “he hit her three times, ever so hard, across the face with his cane” then making her “go dancing down the stairs” causing the mother to see the marks on her daughter’s cheek, and she went to go and confront the guy he was afraid causing her to never go back. Leaving here with little to no education, probably can read, spell, and wright which makes it really sad. Henry Mayhew states that “he treated her as a child, speaking on childish subjects; so that he might, by being familiar with her, remove all shyness, and get her to narrate her life freely.” Meaning that he could not speak to the Watercress Girl as we would speak a to a little kid today.

The little girl did not know anything about dolls, or parks. She then became very curious about the what parks were and Mayhew explained that parks was “large open place with green grass and tall trees, where beautiful carriages drove about, people walk for pleasure, and children played” as explaining what a park was, the little girl’s eyes started to get bright and filled curiosity asking if they would let a girl like her into the park just to look. In that time frame the little girl was deprived of her childhood and innocence, she said “I go about the with water-creases crying, four bunches a penny, water-creases” basically all she knows about is the street market life. As mentioned before her childhood is lost and unknown since she was five years old, making her no stranger to the responsibility of adult as she got older, because she took them up at a young age to help her family. “We never goes home to breakfast till we’ve sold out; but if it’s very late, then I buys a penn’orth of pudden.”

The Watercress Girl, would go out every morning, no matter how the conditions is or how tired she is. She did not complain, about having to give up her youth to go to work on a daily to give her hard earning money to her mother, even though it was still not enough for them to have food on the table. Everyone in the family would give two slices of bread and butter and a cup of tea for breakfast and sometimes on a Sundays they would have meat, and it’s sad because a little girl shouldn’t be growing up in these type of conditions. When the Watercress Girl said “I am a capital hand at bringing- but only at buying. They can’t take me in.” It shows that this little eight-year-old girl already has taken claim what her place is in this society / world that she is currently living in. which is sad because at that age you should think about being a child.

How to cite this essay: