The Hired Girl Part 2 Summary

Joan has done it, she left home. It was not easy, but she hid her belongings in a bucket used to pick berries, then she told her father she was going to pick berries. She could then walk down the lane without her father being curious about where she was going. She had discovered her mother had sewn twenty-nine dollars into her doll's apron, which she would use for train fare and living expenses.

Joan used some left over material to make a dress more suited to a young woman of 16 or 18 years old. Even though she was 14, she though with a more mature dress and her hair put up on top of her head that she might pass for an older girl.

She bought a train ticket for first Lancaster, then she went to Philadelphia and finally on to her true destination of Baltimore. She had written her father a note telling him of her plans to go and live with her Great-Aunt Alma, who lives in Lancaster. She left on her trip only a few days after her father had burned her books. She decided that Baltimore would be a good place to get a job as a hired girl, as she wanted to live in a rich person's house and make her own money.

The train trip to Lancaster was easy, but she was a little daunted by the train to Philadelphia. By the time she was in the train station in Philadelphia, she was a little overwhelmed by all the people and the beauty of the train station. It was in the train station she had the realization that she no longer wanted to be Joan Skraggs, she thought the name was a symbol of her old self. She decided to become Janet Lovelace. Janet was the name Mr. Rochester used for Jane Eyre and Lovelace was because she loved lace.

The train to Baltimore was stopped, because the train ahead of it was having mechanical problems. Janet asked the man sitting next to her if he knew when the train might begin to move again. He told her it could be several hours, this was discouraging to her because she needed to find a boarding house in which to spend the night. The train did finally arrive in Baltimore, but it was dark when they arrived. The man who had been sitting next to her decided to be nice and help her find a place to stay the night.

He told her he knew of a place she could stay, but he had to be with her to vouch for her. Instead, he led her to a dark corner and kissed her. He tried to have his way with her, but she kicked him hard and ran away. She ended up in a park with no idea of where she was or where she was going to sleep, she finally tried to sleep on the park bench.

It was while she was trying to sleep on the park bench that a young man finds her. He asks her if she has a place to stay for the night, but she is afraid after her earlier encounter. She tells him that she is lost and does not know where to stay. After noticing her bruised face, he becomes more concerned for her well fare. She explains that she has run away from home and has no intention of going back. He asks about her parents, she tries to tell him about how her father had burned her books. Instead all she can seem to say is the word father and the young man assumes her father is responsible for her injuries. He suggests to her she could stay at his home, as they have the room for her. Because she is reluctant to go with him, he suggests that she follow him from a safe distance to his home. He will then talk to his mother, who will properly invite Janet into the house.

Once at his house, the young man, Solomon Rosenbach, talks with his mother who eventually invites Janet in. Solomon's mother is a little more reserved than he is, so she questions Janet herself. She finds Janet to be a girl who does not understand that the family is Jewish and therefore, is without any prejudice towards them. She also assumes Janet has been beaten by her father; an assumption that Janet does not clear up. Janet leaves them with the impression that she is 18 years old and running from an abusive father. The family is in need of a hired girl to help the housekeeper who is in her 70's. The problem is the housekeeper is very exacting and does not approve of any of the recent girls hired to help her.

Janet the next morning meets the housekeeper and tries to win her over by doing the dishes. Unknowingly, Janet makes a big mistake, which almost costs her the job the very first morning. In some Jewish households the milk and meats are kept separate. This isn't just how they are stored, but also cooked and washed. Janet had washed a milk dish in the meat sink; this threw Malka, the housekeeper, into a tizzy. She became very angry at Janet, but Mrs. Rosenbach told Malka the household was now a Reform household, so such rules were no longer in effect.

Janet does win over Malka a little by showing her how well she can scrub a floor. She shows Malka that she is not afraid of hard work. Malka promises to teach Janet the food rules, if Janet promises to learn.

Joan, who is now Janet, has struck out to begin a life on her own. She found the courage to travel to Baltimore and she found kindness from Solomon and his mother.

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