Jerusha Abbot was a foundling. She was left on the steps of the asylum called the John Grier Home and stayed there till she was eighteen.
All eighteen year that Judy had spent in the asylum were rather hard and miserable. Being the oldest orphan, poor Judy was responsible practically for everything. She had to look after 11 little tots, to cook and to do everybody’s bidding, especially when Trustees came to make their rounds.
She work hard for her board even when she had finished school, and despite the fact that she had been sent to the village high school, the convenience of the asylum always came first and Jerusha’s education second. Because when Mrs. Lippett (the matron) wanted, she always kept her at home to scrub.
Later on in her letters to Daddy-Long-Legs she wrote that hated the John Grier Home, that she would rather die than go back. She wrote that the asylum supplied the orphans only with food and clothes, but never took care about the children’s souls. The John Grier Home’s aim was to turn 97 orphans into 97 twins, and never cultivated kindness, sympathy and imagination in them. Their lives were absolutely monotonous and uneventful, nothing nice ever happened and nobody, even the Trustees never thought about the orphans’ dreams and feelings.
That were the reasons why Jerusha was happy to leave the asylum. And when she came to college she sharply felt the difference between her life in the John Grier Home and her life in college.
To my mind children who had lost their parents and got into the asylum should be surrounded with love and care, because nothing can replace parents and if the asylum tries to do it, it should be done well.
2. JERUSHA’S LIFE AND STUDY AT COLLEGE.
When Jerusha found herself in college at first she was confused and scared, because she had spent eighteen blank years in the asylum. But still she was excited and happy.
At first her life in college was rather difficult: Judy had never heard about Michael Angelo and Sherlock Holmes, had never read “Little Women” and “Vanity Fair”. She didn’t have her own clothes and even didn’t know some words which she was supposed to know.
But soon the situation changed radically. Jerusha found new friends Sally McBride and Julia Pendleton, she started reading and worked hard, trying to catch up with the other students. Judy was a determined and clever girl, so she made great progress in her studies. Though she had flunked Mathematics and Latin prose Freshman year, later she passed them both and even got a scholarship for her knowledge of English and general excellency in other subjects.
Jerusha’s life in college wasn’t so monotonous and boring as in the asylum. She was chosen for the spring dramatics “As you like it” out of doors and began her swimming lessons. She had read 17 novels and a lot of poetry. She spent her vacation on a farm, went to NY with Master Jervie, visit her friend Sally in her house and there she had her first ball.
And finally, Judy’s dream came true: she had won a short story contest and her book had been published.
Jerusha began to feel at home in college and in command of the situation. She was really happy, she became quite independent and during her study started to earn for herself.
So, during her stay in college Jerusha was as happy as never before.
3. JERUSHA’S IDEA OF A HAPPY CHILDHOOD.
Being brought up in the asylum, Judy never had a happy childhood. She had to work hard for her board, to look after tots, to scrub. She said that her life was absolutely monotonous and uneventful. That is why she considered that a happy childhood should be careless and happy.
She wrote that everyone no matter how many troubles he might have when he grew up, ought to have a happy childhood to look back upon. She thought that life of a child should be fun and full of nice events, she thought that imagination should be cultivated in children, in order to make them kind, generous and sympathetic. She wanted to develop personality in children but the John Grier Home’s aim was to turn 97 orphans into 97 twins.
Jerusha wrote that if she ever had any children on her own, no matter how unhappy she might be, she was not going to let them have any cares until they grew up. She had many troubles herself and didn’t want her children follow her steps. She wrote that if she had five children, she would not leave them on the steps of a foundling asylum in order to bring them up simply.
To my mind children who had lost their parents and got into the asylum should be happy and free during their life there, because they are still children.
I think that matrons should take care not only about food and clothes for their orphans, but also about their souls, about what persons are they going to be when they grow up.
And future character of a person depends on what childhood he had.
4. HOW JERUSHA BECAME AN AUTHOR.
Mr. Smith, Jerusha’s guardian, made up his mind to educate Jerusha to become a writer, because he was impressed by her essay, written in the asylum and entitled “Blue Wednesday”. At first, Judy was surprised at his wish but later on she showed her talent and made big progress in writing.
When she made up her mind to become a writer, Judy started to read because nothing helps to become a good writer better than reading.
After that, she won a short story contest (a twenty-five dollar prize) that the Monthly held every year. Judy couldn’t quite believe it was true and she realized that she might become a writer after all.
The other her success was when her second story was published and she got $50. She believed in herself and started working at a novel. She decided to write about the things she knew quite well – about the JGH. She wrote that she was a realist that time, she had abandoned romanticism.
Jerusha worked hard, she liked to work on her book, she thought of nothing else. She had a writer’s inspiration and was happy.
Then she sold her story. It was going to be published serially in seven parts and then in a book. But she wasn’t wild with joy then. She was entirely apathetic. Though she was glad that she could begin paying to Mr. Smith. Judy wanted to return all his money, he had spent for her education.
So, Jerusha’s dream came true: she finally became a writer and got an opportunity to pay her debts.