The Hired Girl Part 4 Summary

Janet has a scare on August 7, 1911, as she is reading in the family library. She hears someone creeping into the house, knowing the entire family is already in bed, she presumes it must be an intruder. The intruder enters the library and Janet almost smashes him on the head with the fireplace poker before she realizes it is the Rosenbach son, David. He was returning from New York to visit the family. David is like his father both in looks and manner, they are both stout and boisterous men, but David has a very large nose. David has been staying with a family in New York so that he could study painting. He is friendly towards Janet and tells her he would like to paint her for a painting of Joan of Arc, he is working on. He at first insults Janet by telling her the reason he wants to paint her is because she looks like a peasant. This does not set well with Janet, she feels being called a peasant is an insult. David soothes things over with her in the end.

Another afternoon, after she is finished serving Mrs. Rosenbach and the bridge club ladies, Janet hears them talking about her. At first Mrs. Rosenbach talks about how hard working Janet is and how well she gets along with Malka, then she tells the ladies Janet is backward because she was raised in the country. She makes it sound as if being from the country is the same as being stupid. She also mimics how Janet talks and tells the ladies that Janet has a crush on Mr. Rosenbach. This is not true, Janet is merely grateful to him for allowing her to read the books in the library. Mrs. Rosenbach does say her husband thinks that Janet is very intelligent.

Janet still has the sonnet Solomon had written for Nora Himmelrich. She feels that if she could just finish the sonnet and give it to Nora, then Solomon and Nora would marry and be happy forever. So after her class with Father Horst one Tuesday, Janet finishes the sonnet, she plans to give it to Nora at the next bridge club meeting. She gives the sonnet to Nora at the next meeting and is happy to have helped Solomon, much as he helped her.

The next day, August 24, 1911, Solomon storms angrily down to the kitchen and commands Janet to go with him upstairs. Janet is afraid of what he will say to her. He tells her she had no right to snoop through his private papers and to give his sonnet to Nora. He also lets her know that he wrote the sonnet over a year ago and was no longer in love with Nora, in fact he was planning to propose to another girl. Unfortunately, Nora had shown the sonnet to the girl he was in love with. He tells Janet she is, "presumptuous and deceitful", and he was going to make sure she was fired. Janet through her tears tries to explain herself, but he is not mollified very much by her apologies.

At this time Mr. Rosenbach returns home and enters the library, where Janet and Solomon are talking. He wants to know what is happening and Janet tells him the whole story. He then asks Solomon for his side of the story; Solomon confesses his love for Ruth, a Polish Orthodox Jewish girl. The Rosenbachs are Reformed Jews from Germany, so Solomon is afraid his parents would not approve of the marriage. He also finds the courage to tell his father he wants to be a Talmud (writings about the Torah) scholar and join Ruth's synagogue. Mr. Rosenbach is taken aback by this turn of events, he had thought that Solomon would take over the department store when he retired. Even so, he is an understanding man and urges his son to propose to Ruth without delay and tells Solomon he would be proud to have a scholar in the family. Janet begs for her job. She is allowed to stay on as long as she does not snoop or interfere in the family's affairs ever again.

Through her classes with Father Horst, Janet is becoming a more and more devout Catholic. The Father tries to help her by finding a position for her with a Catholic family. But, Janet does not want to leave the Rosenbach home, she feels a sense of loyalty to them, she likes working for them. The Father is afraid they will lead her away from the church and have her convert to the Jewish faith. She assures him that will not happen, the priest becomes angry with Janet because she will not do as he says. Janet decides the best way to help the Rosenbachs is to try to convert them to Catholicism, even though she had promised to not interfere in their matters.

David has returned home after being in New York for some time and he wants to paint Janet. She tells him she cannot sit for him on Sunday mornings because she has to attend mass. He talks her into sitting for him and spending the day with him instead of going to mass. They both know Mrs. Rosenbach would not approve of such behavior, so they decide to keep it a secret from her.

Janet is learning to stay within her station at the Rosenbach household. This means she is trying to remember she is beneath them in the class structure of the time, 1911. She is not allowed to meddle in their affairs and to only do what she is told to do. Her priest is having a difficult time with her being there, he does not feel a Catholic should be working for Jewish people. Prejudice in this time period is not only Christian against Jew, but also Jew against Christian.

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