The Unadjusted Girl
Chapter 2: The Regulation of the Wishes
ONE, of the most important powers gained during the evolution of animal life is the ability to make decisions from within instead of having them imposed from without. Very low forms of life do not make decisions, as we understand this term, but are pushed and pulled by chemical substances, heat, light, etc., much as iron filings are attracted or repelled by a magnet. They do tend to behave properly in given conditions -- a group of small crustaceans will flee as in a panic if a bit of strychnia is placed in the basin containing them and will rush toward a drop of beef juice like hogs crowding around swill -but they do this as an expression of organic affinity for the one substance and repugnance for the other, and not as an expression of choice or "free will." There are, so to speak, rules of behavior but these represent a sort of fortunate mechanistic adjustment of the organism to typically recurring situations, and the organism cannot change the rule.
On the other hand, the higher animals, and above all man, have the power of refusing to obey a stimulation which they followed at an earlier time. Response to the earlier stimulation may have had painful consequences and so the rule or habit in this situation is changed. We call this ability the power of inhibition, and it is dependent on the fact that the nervous system carries memories or records of past experiences.
(42) At this point the determination of action no longer comes exclusively from outside sources but is located within the organism itself.
Preliminary to any self-determined act of behavior there is always a stage of examination and deliberation which we may call the definition of the situation. And actually not only concrete acts are dependent on the definition of the situation, but gradually a whole life policy and the personality of the individual himself follow from a series of such definitions.
But the child is always born into a group of people among whom all the general types of situation which may arise have already been defined and corresponding rules of conduct developed, and where he has not the slightest chance of making his definitions and following his wishes without interference. Men have always lived together in groups. Whether mankind has. a true herd instinct or whether groups are held together because this has worked out to advantage is of no importance. Certainly the wishes in general are such that they can be satisfied only in a society. But we have only to refer to the criminal code to appreciate the variety of ways in which the wishes of the individual may conflict with the wishes of society. And the criminal code takes no account of the many unsanctioned expressions of the wishes which society attempts to regulate by persuasion and gossip.
There is therefore always a rivalry between the spontaneous definitions of the situation made by the member of an organized society and the definitions which his society has provided for him. The individual tends to a hedonistic selection of activity, pleasure first; and society to a utilitarian selection, safety first. Society wishes its member to be laborious, de-
(43) -pendable, regular, sober, orderly, self -sacrificing; while the individual wishes less of this and more of new experience. And organized society seeks also to regulate the conflict and competition inevitable between its members in the pursuit of their wishes. The desire to have wealth, for example, or any other socially sanctioned wish, may not be accomplished at the expense of another member of the society, - by murder, theft, lying, swindling, blackmail, etc.
It is in this connection that a moral code arises, which is a set of rules or behavior norms, regulating the expression of the wishes, and which is built up by successive definitions of the situation. In practice the abuse arises first and the rule is made to prevent its recurrence. Morality is thus the generally accepted definition of the situation, whether expressed in public opinion and the unwritten law, in a formal legal code, or in religious commandments and prohibitions.
The family is the smallest social unit and the primary defining agency. As soon as the child has free motion and begins to pull, tear, pry, meddle, and prowl, the parents begin to define the situation through speech and other signs and pressures: "Be quiet", "Sit up straight", "Blow your nose", "Wash your face", and your mother", "Be kind to sister", etc. This the real significance of Wordsworth's phrase, " Shades the prison house begin to close upon the growing child." His wishes and activities begin to be inhibited, and gradually, by definitions within the family, by playmates, in the school, in the Sunday school, in the community, through reading, by formal instruction, :by informal signs of approval and disapproval, the growing member learns the code of his society.
In addition to the family we have the community
(44) as a defining agency. At present the community is so weak and vague that it gives us no idea of the former power of the local group in regulating behavior. Originally the community was practically the whole world of its members. It was composed of families related by blood and marriage and was not so large that all the members could not come together; it was a face-to-face group. I asked a Polish peasant what was the extent of an "okolica" or neighborhood -how far it reached. "It reaches," he said, "as far as the report of a man reaches as far as a man is talked about." And it was in communities of this kind that the moral code which we now recognize as valid originated. The customs of the community are "folkways", and both state and church have in their more formal codes mainly recognized and incorporated these folkways.
The typical community is vanishing and it would be neither possible nor desirable to restore it in its old form. It does not correspond with the present direction of social evolution and it would now be a distressing condition in which to live. But in the immediacy of relationships and the participation of everybody in everything, it represents an element which we have lost and which we shall probably have to restore in some form of cooperation in order to secure a balanced and normal society,-some arrangement corresponding with human nature.
Very elemental examples of the definition of the situation by the community as a whole, corresponding to mob action as we know it and to our trial by jury, are found among European peasants. The three documents following, all relating to the Russian community or mir, give some idea of the conditions under which a whole community, a public, formerly defined a situation.
25. We who are unacquainted with peasant speech, manners and method of expressing thought -mimicry if we should be present at a division of land or some settlement among the peasants, would never understand anything. Hearing fragmentary, disconnected exclamations, endless quarreling, with repetition of some single word; hearing this racket of a seemingly senseless, noisy crowd that counts up or measures off something, we should conclude that they would not get together, or arrive at any result in an age. . . . Yet wait until the end and you will see that the division has been made with mathematical accuracy - that the measure, the quality of the soil, the slope of the field, the distance from the village -everything in short has been taken into account, that the reckoning has been correctly done and, what is most important, that every one of those present who were interested in the division is certain of the correctness of the division or settlement. The cry, the noise, the racket do not subside until every one is satisfied and no doubter is left.
The same thing is true concerning the discussion of some question by the mir. There are no speeches, no debates, no votes. They shout, they abuse each other, they seem on the point of coming to blows. Apparently they riot in the most senseless manner. Some one preserves silence, silence, and then suddenly puts in a word, one word, or an ejaculation, and by this word, this ejaculation, he turns the whole thing upside down. In the end, you look into it and find that an admirable decision has been formed and, what is most important, a unanimous decision.
26. As I approached the village, there hung over it such a mixed, varied violent shouting, that no well brought-up parliament would agree to recognize itself, even in the abstract, as analogous to this gathering of peasant deputies. It was clearly a full meeting today. . . . At other more
quiet village meetings I had been able to make out very little, but this was a real lesson to me. I felt only a continuous, indistinguishable roaring in my ears, sometimes pierced by a particularly violent phrase that broke out from the general roar. I saw in front of me the "immediate" man, in all his beauty. What struck me first of all was his remarkable frankness; the more "immediate" he is, the less able is he to mask his thoughts and feelings; once he is stirred up the emotion seizes him quickly and he flares up then and there, and does not quiet down till he has poured out before you all the substance of his soul. He does not feel embarrassment before anybody; there are no indications here of diplomacy. Further, he opens up his whole soul, and he will tell everything that he may ever have known about you, and not only about you, but about your father grandfather, and great-grandfather. Here everything is clear water, as the peasants say, and everything stands out plainly. If any one, out of smallness of soul, or for some ulterior motive, thinks to get out of something by keeping silent, they force him out into clear water without pity. And there are very few such small-souled persons at important village meetings. I have seen the most peaceable, irresponsible peasants, who at other times would not have thought of saying a word against any one, absolutely changed at these meetings, at these moments of general excitement. They believed in the saying, "On people even death is beautiful ", and they got up so much courage that they were able to answer back the peasants commonly recognized as audacious. At the moment of its height the meeting becomes simply an open mutual confessional and mutual disclosure, the display of the widest publicity. At these moments when, it would seem, the private interests of each reach the highest tension, public interests and justice in turn reach the highest degree of control.
27. In front of the volost administration building there stands a crowd of some one hundred and fifty men. This means that a volost meeting has been called to consider the verdict of the Kusmin rural commune "regarding the handing over to the [state] authorities of the peasant Gregori Siedov, caught red-handed and convicted of horse-stealing." Siedov had already been held for judicial inquiry; the evidence against him was irrefutable and he would undoubtedly be sentenced to the penitentiary, In view of this I endeavor to explain that the verdict in regard to his exile is wholly superfluous and will only cause a deal of trouble; and that at the termination of the sentence of imprisonment of Siedov the commune will unfailingly be asked whether it wants him back or prefers that he be exiled. Then, I said, in any event it would be necessary to formulate a verdict in regard to the "non-reception" of Siedov, while at this stage all the trouble was premature and could lead to nothing. But the meeting did not believe my words, did not trust the court and wanted to settle the matter right then and there; the general hatred of horse-thieves was too keen. . . .
The decisive moment has arrived; the head-man "drives" all the judges-elect to one side; the crowd stands with a gloomy air, trying not to look at Siedov and his wife, who are crawling before the mir on their knees. "Old men, whoever pities Gregori, will remain in his place, and whoever does not forgive him will step to the right," cries the head man. The crowd wavered and rocked, but remained dead still on the spot; no one dared to be the first to take the fatal step. Gregori feverishly ran over the faces of his judges with his eyes, trying to read in these faces pity for him. His wife wept bitterly, her face close to the ground; beside her, finger in mouth and on the point of screaming, stood a three-year-old youngster (at home Gregori had four more children). . . . But straightway one peasant steps out of the crowd; two years before some one had stolen a horse from him. "Why should we pity him? Did he pity us?" says the old man, and stooping goes over to the right
side. "That is true; bad grass must be torn from the field," says another one from the crowd, and follows the old man. The beginning had been made; at first individually and then in whole groups the judges-elect proceeded to go over to the right. The man condemned by public opinion ran his head into the ground, beat his breast with his fists, seized those who passed him by their coat-tails, crying: "Ivan Timofeich! Uncle Leksander! Vasinka, dear kinsman! Wait, kinsmen, let me say a word. . . . Petrushenka." But, without stopping and with stern faces, the members of the mir dodged the unfortunates, who were crawling at their feet. . . . At last the wailing of Gregori stopped; around him for the space of three sazen the place was empty; there was no one to implore. All the judge elect, with the exception of one, an uncle of the man to be exiled, had gone over to the right. The woman cried sorrowfully, while Gregori stood motionless on his knees, his head lowered, stupidly looking at the ground.
The essential point in reaching a communal decision, just as in the case of our jury system, is unanimity. In some cases the whole community mobilizes around a stubborn individual to conform him to the general wish.
28. It sometimes happens that all except one may agree but the motion is never carried if that one refuses to agree to it. In such cases all endeavor to talk over and persuade the stiff-necked one. Often they even call to their aid his wife, his children, his relatives, his father-in-law, and his mother, that they may prevail upon him to say yes. Then all assail him, and say to him from time to time: " Come now, God help you, agree with us too, that this may take place as wish it, that the house may not be cast into disorder, that we may not be talked about by the people, that the neighbors may not hear of it, that the world may not
make sport of us!" It seldom occurs in such cases that unanimity is not attained.
A less formal but not less powerful means of defining the situation employed by the community is gossip. The Polish peasant's statement that a community reaches as far as a man is talked about was significant, for the community regulates the behavior of its members largely by talking about them. Gossip has a bad name because it is sometimes malicious and false and designed to improve the status of the gossiper and degrade its object, but gossip is in the main true and is an organizing force. It is a mode of defining the situation in a given case and of attaching praise or blame. It is one of the means by which the status of the individual and of his family is fixed.
The community also, particularly in connection with gossip, knows how to attach opprobrium to persons and actions by using epithets which are at the same time brief and emotional definitions of. the situation. "Bastard", "whore", "traitor", "coward", "skunk", "scab". "snob". "kike". etc., are such epithets. In "Faust" the community said of Margaret, "She stinks." The people are here employing a device known in psychology as the "conditioned reflex." If, for example, you place before a child (say six months old) an agreeable object, a kitten, and at the same time Pinch the child, and if this is repeated several times, the child will immediately cry at the sight of the kitten without being pinched; or if a dead rat were always served beside a man's plate of soup he would eventually have a disgust for soup when served separately. If the word "stinks" is associated on people's
(50) tongues with Margaret, Margaret will never again smell sweet. Many evil consequences, as the psychoanalysts claim, have resulted from making the whole of sex life a "dirty" subject, but the device has worked in a powerful, sometimes a paralyzing way on the sexual behavior of women.
Winks, shrugs, nudges, laughter, sneers, haughtiness, coldness, "giving the once over" are also language defining the situation and painfully felt as unfavorable recognition. The sneer, for example, is incipient vomiting, meaning, "you make me sick."
And eventually the violation of the code even in an act of no intrinsic importance, as in carrying food to the mouth with the knife, provokes condemnation and disgust. The fork is not a better instrument for conveying food than the knife, at least it has no moral superiority, but the situation has been defined in favor of the fork. To smack with the lips in eating is bad manners with us, but the Indian has more logically defined the situation in the opposite way; with him smacking is a compliment to the host.
In this whole connection fear is used by the group to produce the desired attitudes in its member. Praise is used also but more sparingly. And the whole body of habits and emotions is so much a community and family product that disapproval or separation is almost unbearable. The following case shows the painful situation of one who has lost her place in a family and community.
29. I am a young woman of about twenty; I was born in America but my parents come from Hungary. They are very religious. . . . When I was fourteen I became acquainted in school with a gentile boy of German parents. He was a very fine and decent boy. I liked his company,
and we became close friends. Our friendship continued over a period of several years, unknown to my parents. I did not want to tell them, knowing quite well that they would not allow my friendship to a gentile.
When we grew older, our friendship developed into ardent love and one year ago we decided to marry - without my parents' consent, of course. I surmised that after my wedding they would forgive my marrying a non-Jewish young man, but just the opposite turned out. My religious parents were full of scorn when they learned of my secret doings, and not only did they not forgive me but they chased me out of the house and refused to have anything to do with me.
To add to my misfortune, I am now being spurned by my friend, my lover, my everything-my husband. After our marriage he became a different man; he drank and gainbled and called me the vilest names. He continually asked why he married a "damned Jewess", as if it were my fault alone. Before our marriage I was the best girl in the world for him and now he would drown me in a spoonful of water to get rid of me. Fortunately I have no child as yet.
My husband's parents hate me even more than my husband and just as I was turned out of the house for marrying a gentile, so he was shown the door by his parents for marrying a Jewess.
Well, a few months ago my husband deserted me and I have no idea of his whereabouts. I was confronted by a terrible situation. Spurned by my own relatives and by my husband's, I feel very lonely, not having some one to tell my troubles to.
Now, I want you to advise me how to find my husband. I do not want to live with him by compulsion, nor do I ask his support, for I earn my living working in a shop. I merely ask his aid in somehow obtaining a divorce, so that I may return to my people, to my God and to my parents. I can'not stand the loneliness and do not want to be hated, denounced and spurned by all. My loneliness will drive me to a premature grave.
Perhaps you can tell me how to get rid of my misfortune. Believe me, I am not to blame for what I have done - it was my ignorance. I never believed that it was such a terrible crime to marry a non-Jew and that my parents would under no circumstances forgive me. I am willing to do anything, to make the greatest sacrifice, if only the terrible ban be taken off me.
In the following the writer is not the father of the girl who has just told her story, but he might well be. His statement shows the power of family and community customs in determining emotional attitudes.
30. [My daughter has married an Italian who is a very good man]. . . . My tragedy is much greater because I am a free thinker. Theoretically, I consider a "goi" [gentile] just as much a man as a Jew. . . . Indeed I ask myself these questions: "What would happen if my daughter married a Jewish fellow who was a good-for-nothing? . . . And what do I care if he is an Italian? But I can not seem to answer these delicate questions. The fact is that I would prefer a refined man; but I would sooner have a common Jew than an educated goi. Why this is so, I do not know, but that is how it is, of that there is no doubt. And this shows what a terrible chasm exists between theory and practice! . . . 
The tendency of communities and families to regulate so minutely the behavior of all their members was justified by the fact that in case of poverty, sickness, death, desertion, or ruin the community or family assumed the burden, submitted to the yoke", as they expressed it. In case No. 81 the former members of a community still support an abandoned child though they are in America and the child in Europe.
31. In the year 1912 in a little [Russian] village a father abandoned his family, a wife and three children. Of the children two were girls and the third was a boy six months old. The mother worried along with the children and finally in despair she changed her religion and. married a Christian 'from a neighboring village. The children she simply abandoned.
Of course the community of the village where this happened took care of the three abandoned children. They save them out to families to be reared, and the village paid for them by the month. My mother was by no means a rich woman and felt the need of money, so she took the boy, or which the community paid.
For some years everything went well, until the great World War broke out. The village in question was impoverished by the war and was plundered by various bands of pogromists. Great numbers of Jews were killed and the community was destroyed.
My mother no longer received the monthly payment the child; there was no one to make the payment. But my mother did not have the heart to throw the poor Child into the street. They had become attached to each Other, the child to my mother whom he called "mamma" and my mother to the child. So my mother kept the child without pay. That is, she and the child hungered and suffered together. Now, dear editor, I come to the point.
The family of the writer of these lines was scattered. My a father died at home. I and two sisters are now in America. My mother and the child are still in the old home. Of course we send our mother money for her support and this means that we support not only our mother but also the child of strangers. But it has never occurred to us here in America to reproach our mother because we are compelled to send money for a strange child.
On the contrary, we understand that it is our duty not to have like murderers toward the innocent, helpless victim
of the present social conditions whom fate has thrown upon us. But the following is also true:
We have heard that the child's father is in America, somewhere around New York, and that he is very rich. So we think that it is no more than right that the father of the child shall take the yoke from us who are strangers and support his own child. I will say that I and my two sisters are simple working people. Every cent that we earn is worked for with our ten fingers. Therefore, I appeal to the father of our mother's ward to take over the responsibility for his child, which is without doubt his duty.
As far as possible the family regulates its affairs within itself without appealing to the community and thus subjecting itself to gossip. Situations arising within the family where members are not in agreement, where a conflict of wishes is involved, are defined through argument, ordering and forbidding, remonstrance, reproof, entreaty, sulking, tears, and beatings. But as a last resort a member of a family may provoke gossip, appeal to the community. In case No. 9, the woman defines the situation to her deserting husband publicly. She does it very tactfully. She uses every art, reminder, and appreciation to influence his return. She wishes to avoid a public scandal, reminds him of the noble professions he has always made as man and father, pictures the children as grieving and herself as ashamed to let them know, and belie es that he is fundamentally a fine man who has had a moment of weakness or suffered a temporary madness - so she says. In addition the powerful newspaper through which she seeks publicity will define the situation to the erring husband. Presumably he will return.
32. 1 come to you with the request that you will write a few words to my husband. He has a high opinion of the answers that you give in Bintel Brief and I hope that some words from you will have a good effect on him so that we shall be able to avoid a public scandal. In the meantime I am containing my troubles but if matters get worse I shall have to turn to people for help. I will say that my husband and I always lived a good life together. He always condemned in the strongest terms those fathers who leave their children to God's mercy. "Children," he said, "are innocent and we must take care not to make them unhappy" that was the way he always talked. And now he has himself done what he always condemned and regarded as the greatest meanness.
The last night before he went away my husband kissed our youngest daughter so much that she is now sick from longing for him. The older girl is continually asking, "When will father come ?" I am frightfully upset by the unexpected misfortune which has struck me.
Dear editor, I have the greatest confidence in the goodness of my husband. Perhaps he has lost his reason for a time, but he is not corrupt. I am almost sure that when he reads my letter he will come back to his senses and will behave as a man and as a decent person should behave. I beg you to print my letter as soon as possible and help to restore a broken family.
Contrary to this we have the device of public confession, a definition of the situation in terms of selfcondemnation. The following is a public apology which gives the injured husband favorable public recognition and seeks a reconciliation.
33. I myself drove out my good and true husband in a shameful manner and placed the guilt at his door, and although he is angry he is decent enough not to say anything
to anybody. He takes the blame on himself. All my friends and acquaintances think that he is really the guilty one.
I have been married for the last eleven years and up to two years ago I thought that somehow I should end my life peacefully, although I have caused many a quarrel. . . . My tongue is sharp and burning. . . . My husband always forgave me. Many times be cried and a week or two would pass by quietly. And then again I could not be quiet. Quite often I would start to fire away at the table and he would get up, leave the house, and go to a restaurant. When he returned he had some more. And according to my behavior my husband began to treat me roughly . . . .
At this time we tried business for ourselves . . . and owing to numerous reasons my husband had everything in my name; I was the owner of everything that we had. After that I began to rule over him still more, and when he saw that he could do nothing with me he stopped speaking to me.
I have tried everything to dirty his name. Oh, now my conscience troubles me when I see three live orphans wandering about. Would it not be better if the community had forbidden me to marry in order to avoid such a family tragedy.
I am a snake by nature and this is not my fault; that's how I am. My friends meet him and they tell me that he does not say a word about our tragedy. He says: "I am doing the best that I can and when I am able to give a home to my children, then I will worry about them." And I am afraid that some day he will take away the children from me and then I shall be left alone like a stone.
The priests in Poland say that if all the influences of the community are active - the family, the priest, the friends, and neighbors - there are few necessarily bad men. They say also that communities tend to
(57) be all good or all bad, and that this is determined largely by majorities. If a community is good the priest thunders from -the chancel against any symptom of badness; if it is already bad he praises and encourages any little manifestation of goodness. In examining the letters between immigrants in America and their home communities I have noticed that the great solicitude of the family and community is that the absent member shall not change. Absence and the resulting outside influence are dreaded as affecting the solidarity of the group. And the typical immigrant letter is an assurance and reminder that the writer, though absent, is still a member of the community. I found the following letter in the home of a peasant family in Poland. It was written from Chicago on "Palmer House" stationery. The writer was a chambermaid in that hotel. She was little instructed, could barely read and write. The letter contained no capitals and no punctuation and was addressed to a girl who could not write at all.
This letter was read by all the neighbors. No one would understand keeping a letter private. The introduction, "Praised be Jesus Christ", to which the ,reader or hearer is expected to reply, "For centuries of centuries, Amen", is a traditional form expressing common membership in a religious-social community. The greetings at the end should be complete enough to recognize every family which ought to be noticed. The sending of money is a practical sign of community membership. The poetry and aesthetic writing is the absent girl's way of participating in the social gatherings of the community, of doing her turn in the festivities where poems are composed and recited. She writes as prettily as she can in order to provoke recognition. For the convenience of Polish immi-
(58) grants business enterprise even provides printed letters containing appropriate greetings and assurances, leaving blank space for names and informational matter.
34. I am beginning this letter with the words: "Praised be Jesus Christus", and I hope that you will answer: "For centuries of centuries, Amen."
Dearest Olejniczka: I greet you from my heart, and wish you health and happiness. God grant that this little letter reaches you well, and as happy as the birdies in May. This I wish you from my heart, dear Olejniczka.
The rain is falling; it falls beneath my slipping feet.
I do not mind; the post office is near.
when I write my little letter
I will flit with it there,
And then, dearest Olejniczka
My heart will be light, from giving you a pleasure.
In no grove do the birds sing so sweetly
as my heart, dearest Olejniczka, for you.
Go, little letter, across the broad sea, for I cannot come to you. When I arose in the morning, I looked up to the heavens and thought to myself that to you, dearest Olejniczka, a little letter I must send.
Dearest Olejniczka, I left papa, I left sister and brother and you to start out in the wide world, and to-day I am yearning and fading away like the world without the sun.
If I shall ever see you again, then like a little child, of great joy I shall cry. To your feet I shall bow low, and your hands I shall kiss. Then you shall know how I love you, dearest Oleiniczka.
I went up on a high hill and looked in that far direction, but I see you not, and I hear you not.
Dear Olejniczka only a few words will I write. As many sand-grains as there are in the field, as many drops of water in the sea, so many sweet years of life 1, Walercia, wish you for the Easter holidays. I wish you all good, a hundred years of life, health and happiness. And loveliness I wish
you. I greet you through the white lilies, I think of you every night, dearest Olejniczka.
Are you not in Bielice any more, or what? Answer, as I sent you a, letter and there is no answer. Is there no one to write for you?
And now I write you how I am getting along. I am getting on well, very well. I have worked in a factory and I am now working in a hotel. I receive 18 (in our money 36) dollars a month, and that is very good.
If you would like it we could bring Wladzio over some day. We eat here every day what we get only for Easter in our country. We are bringing over Helena and brother now. I had $120 and I sent back $90.
I have no more to write, only we greet you from our heart, dearest Oleiniczka. And the Olejniks and their children; and Wladislaw we greet; and the Szases with their children; and the Zwolyneks with their children; and the Grotas with their children, and the Gyrlas with their children; and all our acquaintances we greet. My address: North America [etc.] Good-by. For the present, sweet good-by.
The sets of habits and reactions developed socially, under family, community, and church influence, may -become almost as definite as the mechanistic adjustments which I mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. The "folkways" become equivalent in force to the instincts and even displace them. In the following case the girl is completely isolated, and in a very critical situation but resists temptation on the basis of her memories.
35. This happened fourteen years ago. I had been in America but a short time and was a healthy and pretty girl of nineteen.
I had worked in a place seven months and earned the gigantic sum of $4.00 a week. But soon slack set in and I
lost my job. It was summer and in the hot days I continued to look for work. The whole day I used to drag my tired body from place to place, only to come home in the evening all fagged out and with no prospect of work.
I was then living with a widow who was even poorer than myself for she had to provide for her several children. I had to sleep there for I could not live in the street, but stopped eating there because she simply had nothing to give me and I could not afford to pay her. What was I to do? So twice a day I used to "feed" my stomach on credit, that is, I would promise to repay it all the foregone breakfasts and dinners as soon as I got a job.
What I did eat I obtained in the following manner: went into a grocery and waited until all the customers were gone, when I would whisper to the grocer to let me have an old roll and a piece of herring on the promise of paying for it when I found work. That's how I managed to live while starving.
It will be understood that this sort of life did not satisfy me. I recall with horror the wild thoughts that entered my mind as I paced the streets in the hot weather, hungry and thirsty. Temptation was whispering to me that a pretty and healthy girl like me did not have to wait for honest labor. . . . That I did not yield to the voice of temptation was simply a miracle, despite the fact that I am not religious and do not believe in miracles.
Once I nearly lost control of myself . . . but the memory of my parents on the other side who were very religious and respectable people - the love for them - saved me from taking the false step. It was this way: One afternoon of a very warm day, being tired of walking around in search of work, hungry and thirsty, I dropped my hands in despair, murmuring to myself: "Come what may, I can stand it no longer. . . . I can't. . . " And I began to look for some young man to whom to offer my body. . . .
My heart beat heavily, my hands and feet trembled and my teeth chattered as I passed by many men without daring
to carry out my decision. Finally, my eyes were set upon a well-dressed young man whom I was going to stop. . . . But at the very last moment the bright faces of my parents appeared before my eyes and I desisted in terror from my plan. I thought it was better to drop in the street than bring disgrace upon my dear parents. I went home afterward.
The point that I want to bring out is this: One evening I went as usual to a grocery to obtain my portion of roll and a piece of herring. The grocer, not a friendly man, at least not a thinking man, drove me out of the store. . . . This experience chased away my hunger and I did not attempt to enter another grocery. Ashamed and embittered, I went home. In the hall of the house I noticed a green slip of paper on the floor. My heart leapt with joy. 1 picked it up, doubting whether it was really money, for I did not believe that such good fortune could befall me. . . . I examined the paper closely and found it to be a genuine one-dollar bill! I was as overwhelmed with joy as if I had found a whole treasure, as if I had suddenly turned millionaire.
I began to plan a gala meal - bologna and tea . . . but first I decided to go to the candy store for some "lemon and strawberry mixed " soda for three cents. As I walked up the flights of stairs to my room to wash up, I heard a mother's scolding and a child's weeping as it was being whipped by its mother. She was punishing him for losing the dollar on the way to the grocery. The poor boy was crying with his last strength and it could break anybody's heart.
I hesitated no longer and rapped on the door of the flat from which the commotion came. A pale and emaciated woman opened the door for me. "Here is your dollar," I said; "I found it in the hallway." The woman snatched the bill out of my hand without even looking at me, let alone thanking me. . . . And to this very day I don't know whether she acted that way out of embittered feeling or out of ill-manners.
One thing I know: I was more hungry and thirsty that night than at any other time -the bill had so increased my appetite that I could have swallowed that woman and her boy together. . . . I think I should add that I am now married to a very dear man and have three precious little children, and we make a fine living.
The following passages picture the life of a young American girl of the middle of the last century where the whole community is cooperating with the family to standardize her. Her parents are dead but the influences are complete without them. She is met at every turn with definitions of the situation which 'in this case are rigid but of the most genial and affectionate character. She does not lose her personality because that is in her nature; she is alert and witty, like her grandmother. If there were no disturbance of the situation she would become such an old woman as her grandmother is. The outside world is, however, beginning to press in. The situation has already been defined to her in terms of "woman's rights."
36. November 21, 1852. -1 am ten years old today, and I will write a journal and tell who I am and what I am doing. I have lived with my Grandfather and Grandmother Beals ever since I was seven years old, and Anna, too, since she was four. Our brothers, James and John' came too, but they are at East Bloomfield at Mr. Stephen Clark's Academy. Miss Laura Clark of Naples is their, teacher.
Anna and I go to school at District No. 11. Mr. James C. Cross is our teacher, and some of the scholars say he is cross by name and cross by nature, but I like him. He gave
me a book by the name of " Noble Deeds of American Women ", for reward of merit, in my reading class.
Friday. - Grandmother says I will have a great deal to answer for, because Anna looks up to me so and tries to do everything that I do and thinks whatever I say is "gospel truth." The other day the girls at school were disputing with her about something and she said, "It is so, if it ain't so, for Calline said so." I shall have to "toe the mark", as Grandfather says, if she keeps watch of me all the time and walks in my footsteps.
April 1, 1853. - Before I go to school every morning I read three chapters in the Bible. I read three every day and five on Sunday and that takes me through the Bible in a year. Those I read this morning were the first, second, and third chapters of Job. The first was about Eliphaz reproveth Job; second, benefit of God's correction; third, Job justifieth his complaint. I then learned a text to say at school. I went to school at quarter to nine and recited my text and we had prayers and then proceeded with the business of the day. Just before school was out, we recited in "Science of Things Familiar", and in Dictionary, and then we had calisthenics.
July. - Hiram Goodrich, who lives at Mr. Myron H. Clark's, and George and Wirt Wheeler ran away on Sunday to seek their fortunes. When they did not come back every one was frightened and started out to find them. They set out right after Sunday school, taking their pennies which had been given them for the contribution, and were gone Several days. They were finally found at Palmyra. When asked why they had run away, one replied that he thought it was about time they saw something of the world. We heard that Mr. Clark had a few moments' private conversation with Hiram in the barn and Mr. Wheeler the same with his boys and we do not think they will go traveling on their own hook again right off. Miss Upham lives right across the street from them and she was telling little Morris Bates that he must fight the good fight of faith and he asked
her if that was the fight that Wirt Wheeler fit. She probably had to make her instructions plainer after that.
1854, Sunday. - Mr. Daggett's text this morning was the twenty-second chapter of Revelation, sixteenth verse, "I am the root and offspring of David and the bright and morning star." Mrs. Judge Taylor taught our Sunday-school class today and she said we ought not to read our Sunday school books on Sunday. I always do. Mine today was entitled, "Cheap Repository Tracts" by Hannah More, and it did not seem unreligious at all.
Tuesday. - Mrs. Judge Taylor sent for me to come over to see her today. I didn't know what she wanted, but when I got there she said she wanted to talk and pray with me on the subject of religion. She took me into one of the wings. I never had been in there before and was frightened at first, but it was nice after I got used to it. After she prayed, she asked me to, but I couldn't think of anything but "Now I Jay me down to sleep", and I was afraid she would not like that, so I did n't say anything. When I got home and told Anna, she said, "Caroline, I presume probably Mrs. Taylor wants you to be a missionary, but I shan't let you go." I told her she need n't worry for I would have to stay at home and look after her. After school tonight I went out into Abbie Clark's garden with her and she taught me how to play "mumble te peg." it is fun, but rather dangerous. I am afraid Grandmother won't give me a knife to play with. Abbie Clark has beautiful pansies in her garden and gave me some roots.
Sunday. - I almost forgot that it was Sunday this morning and talked and laughed just as I do week days. Grandmother told me to write down this verse before I went to church so I would remember it: "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to bear than to offer the sacrifice of fools." I will remember it now, sure. My feet are all right anyway with my new patten leather shoes on, but I shall have to look out for my head. Mr. Thomas Howell read a sermon today as Mr. Daggett is out
of town. Grandmother always comes upstairs to get the candle and tuck us in before she goes to bed herself, and some nights we are sound asleep and do not hear her, but last night we only pretended to be asleep. She kneeled down by the bed and prayed aloud for us, that we might be good children and that she might have strength given her from on high to guide us in the straight and narrow path which leads to life eternal. Those were her very words. After she had gone down-stairs we sat up in bed and talked about it and promised each other to be good, and crossed our hearts and "hoped to die", if we broke our promise. Then Anna was afraid we would die, but I told her I didn't believe we would be as good as that, so we kissed each other and went to sleep.
Sunday. - Rev. Mr. Tousley preached today to the children and told us how many steps it took to be bad. I think he said lying was first, then disobedience to parents, breaking the Sabbath, swearing, stealing, drunkenness. I don't remember just the order they came. It was very interesting, for he told lots of stories and we sang a great many times. I should think Eddy Tousley would be an awful good boy with his father in the house with him all the while, but probably he has to be away part of the time preaching to other children.
December 20, 1855. - Susan B. Anthony is in town and spoke in Bemis Hall this afternoon. She made a special request that all the seminary girls should come to hear her as well as all the women and girls in town. She had a large audience and she talked very plainly about our rights and how we ought to stand up for them, and said the world would never go right until the women had just as much right to vote and rule as the men. She asked us qll to come up and sign our names who would promise to do all in our power to bring about that glad day when equal rights would be the law of the land. A whole lot of us went up and signed the paper. When I told Grandmother about it she said she guessed Susan B. Anthony had forgotten that St. Paul said
the women should keep silence. I told her no, she did n't, for she spoke particularly about St. Paul and said if he had lived in these times, instead of eighteen hundred years ago, he would have been as anxious to have the women at the head of the government as she was. I could not make Grandmother agree with her at all and she said we might better all of us stayed at home. We went to prayer meeting this evening and a woman got up and talked. Her name was Mrs. Sands. We hurried home and told Grandmother and she said she probably meant all right and she hoped we did not laugh.
February 21, 1856. -We had a very nice time at Fannie Gaylord's party and a splendid supper. Lucilla Field laughed herself almost to pieces when she found on going home that she had worn her leggins all the evening. We had a pleasant walk home but did not stay till it was out. Some one asked me if I danced every set and I told them no, I set every dance. I told Grandmother and she was very much pleased. Some one told us that Grandfather and Grandmother first met at a ball in the early settlement of Canandalgua. I asked her if it was so and she said she never danced since she became a professing Christian and that was more than fifty years ago.
May, 1856. -We were invited to Bessie Seymour's party last night and Grandmother said we could go. The girls all told us at school that they were going to wear low neck and short sleeves. We have caps on the sleeves of our best dresses and we tried to get the sleeves out, so we could go bare arms, but we could n't get them out. We had a very nice time, though, at the party. Some of the Academy boys were there and they asked us to dance but of course we couldn't do that. We promenaded around the rooms and went out to supper with them. Eugene Stone and Tom Eddy asked to go home with us but Grandmother sent our two girls for us, Bridget Flynn and Hannah White, so they couldn't. We were quite disappointed, but perhaps she won't send for us next time.
Thursday, 1857. -We have four sperm candles in four silver candlesticks and when we have company we light them. Johnie Thompson, son of the minister, Rev. M. L. R. P., has come to the academy to school and he is very full of fun and got acquainted with all the girls very quick. He told us this afternoon to have "the other candle lit" for he was coming down to see us this evening. Will Schley heard him say it and he said he was coming too. Later. -The boys came and we had a very pleasant evening but when the 9 o'clock bell rang we heard Grandfather winding up the clock and scraping up the ashes on the hearth to cover the fire so it would last till morning and we all understood the signal and they bade us good night. "We won't go home till morning" is a song that will never be sung in this house.
August 30, 1858. -Some one told us that when Bob and Henry Antes were small boys they thought they would like to try, just for once, to see how it would seem to be bad, so in spite of all of Mr. Tousley's sermons they went out behind the barn one day and in a whisper Bob said, "I swear", and Henry said, "So do l." Then they came into the house looking guilty and quite surprised, I suppose, that they were not struck dead just as Ananias and Sapphira were for lying.
1860, Sunday. - Frankie Richardson asked me to go with her to teach a class in the colored Sunday School on Chapel Street this afternoon. I asked Grandmother if I could go and she said she never noticed that I was particularly interested in the colored race and she said she thought I only wanted an excuse to get out for a walk Sunday afternoon. However, she said I could go just this once. When we got up as far as the Academy, Mr. Noah T. Clarke's brother, who is one of the teachers, came out and Frank said he led the singing at the Sunday school and she said she would give me an introduction to him, so he walked up with us and home again. Grandmother said that when she saw him opening the gate for me, she understood my zeal in missionary work. "The dear little lady", as we often call her, has always been noted for her keen discernment and wonderful sagacity and
loses none of it as she advances in years. Some one asked Anna the other day if her Grandmother retained all her faculties and Anna said, " Yes, indeed, to an alarming degree." Grandmother knows that we think she is a perfect angel even if she does seem rather strict sometimes. Whether we are seven or seventeen we are children to her just the same, and the Bible says, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." We are glad that we never will seem old to her. I had the same company home from church in the evening. His home is in Naples.
Christmas, 1860. -I asked Grandmother if Mr. Clarke could take Sunday night supper with us and she said she was afraid he did not know the catechism. I asked him Friday night and he said he would learn it on Saturday so that he could answer every third question anyway. So he did and got along very well. I think he deserves a pretty good supper.
At the best no society has ever succeeded in regulating the behavior of all its members satisfactorily all the time. There are crimes of passion, of avarice, of revenge, even in face-to-face communities where the control is most perfect. In the Hebrew code there were ten offenses for which the punishment was death by stoning. One of the examples cited above from the Russian mir was concerned with horse stealing. And the sexual passions have never been completely contained within the framework of marriage. But communities have been so powerful that all members have acknowledged the code and have been ready to repent and be forgiven. And forgiveness has been one of the functions of the community, sometimes
(69) more particularly the function of the God of the community. A dying reprobate (the anecdote is attached to Rabelais) has been represented as saying, "Dieu me pardonera. C'est son métier." The community usually wishes to forgive and restore the offending member. It wants no breach in its solidarity and morale. And as long as the offender wishes to be forgiven and restored the code is working. The code is failing only if the sinner does not recognize it and does not repent. And when crime and prostitution pear as professions they are the last and most radical expressions of loss of family and community organization.