The Hired Girl Quotes

"Today Miss Chandler gave me this beautiful book, I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to -I will write in it with truth and refinement." (Joan Skraggs, Part 1, p. 3)

Joan has just received the diary from her teacher, Miss Chandler. It is a going away present, because Joan's father has made her quite school. Joan is very upset about having to leave school, she found a place which gave her the access to books she so desires. She also has a strong attachment to her teacher, because Joan's mother is dead she looks to her teacher for a role model of how a woman should act.

"Not for toys or clothes or candy or pretty things. That money's for something important. If I'm ever not here to help you, remember that money's there for you, right in Belinda's apron." (Joan's mother, Part 1, p. 18)

Joan's mother made her a doll named Belinda and gave her the doll when Joan was six years old. At the age of nine her mother told her about the money she had sewn into the doll's apron. It was this money Joan used to run away from home. She ran away because her father had no love for Joan and his only use for her was as a servant. The day he burned her books, after Joan had asked for the egg money, is the day Joan decided she must somehow escape the farm.

"I have escaped!" (Joan Skraggs, Part 2, p. 65)

Joan has successfully run away from home. She is expressing her elation and relief at having accomplished her goal of getting away from her father. It took a great deal of courage and determination to execute her plan, but she did it. She knows she still has a long way to go before she can complete her first goal, which is to obtain employment as a hired girl.

"So I decided on Janet, which is close to Joan, but ever so much prettier, and not too fancy for a hired girl."

"For my last name, I chose Lovelace---because I do love lace, or would if I had some, so it isn't even a lie." (Joan Skraggs, Part 2, p. 74)

Joan decided to give herself a new name to represent the new person she has become. She also had an extreme dislike for her last name and this was the perfect opportunity to shed herself of it. She wanted a name that was close enough to her real first name, in order that she would easily respond to it when called. She also wanted a name that wasn't too far from who she was, thus the name Janet Lovelace. As she liked the name Janet, better than Joan and she also did like lace. She felt it was closer to the truth of who she is than her real name.

"I will be a Shabbos goy, which is a Christian who does the work that Jews aren't supposed to do on Shabbos." (Janet Lovelace, Part 3, p. 120)

Janet, the new name Joan has taken, is discovering the new responsibilities she is expected to take on now that she is a hired girl in a Jewish household. These responsibilities include working on the Shabbos, which is celebrated on Friday evening and continues until sundown on Saturday. She is the only person in the household who can clean and serve during the Shabbos. This quote shows the differences between the Jewish and Gentile ways of life. That because Janet is a Gentile, she is given these extra duties. Malka, on the other hand, is allowed to eat with the family and take part in the Shabbos.

"For my sake and for Malka's. That's when the truth sank in: to Mr. Solomon, I'm just a servant like Malka." (Janet Lovelace, Part 3, p. 125)

This is the defining moment when Janet realizes in her heart she is a servant. She knew intellectually that was her position in the household, but she always felt that in reality, she had the same status as a family member. These words by Solomon allow the reality of the situation to sink into her heart. She feels foolish for allowing herself to feel as if she has some sort of bond with Solomon, because he was the one who took her into the Rosenbach's home. She now knows the kind act he performed for her he would have done for any stray animal or person. She feels sad, because she had hoped that he would see her as his equal, but instead the class differences between them are starkly put before her eyes.

"I think David must like me pretty well if he's going to buy me a sketchpad and see me another time." (Joan Lovelace, Part 5, p. 252)

The oldest Rosenbach son, David, has shown interest in Janet as a model for his painting of Joan of Arc. Unfortunately, Janet thinks the young man has a romantic interest in her, but he just sees her as the perfect model for his painting. He acts in a friendly manner towards her in order to secure her cooperation and he does find her to be a nice companion, but that is it. He and Janet should not even be seen outside the house together, after all she is the hired girl and he is the son of her employer. The other reason a romantic relationship would not work out for them is of course the differences in their religion. A Jewish and Christian person of this time period are simply not allowed to have a romantic relationship. It would cause a scandal not only for the two individuals involved, but also for their families.

"What exactly did you say to the good priest, when you rebuked him?"

"Well, I didn't mind answering. 'I told him he had anti-Semitism.'" (Mr. Rosenbach and Janet Lovelace, Part 5, p. 266)

Janet is being questioned by Mr. Rosenbach concerning a letter she received from Father Horst. Malka had taken the letter from Janet and read it before Janet had a chance to see it. Malka misinterpreted the letter as evidence of Janet's disloyalty towards the family, because Father Horst, in the letter, tells Janet he had been wrong in his attempts to persuade her to leave the Rosenbachs. He also admits she was right to reprimand him for his views about Jews. Malka thought she was telling the priest lies about the family. Instead Mr. Rosenbach calmly asks Janet what she said to the priest. He is happy that she stood up to the priest and defended his family. He tells her it took courage to stand up to an authority figure such as a priest. This passage also leads to Janet speak to Mr. Rosenbach about her religion and the possibility of him and his family converting to Catholicism. He kindly tells her that everyone should remain loyal to their own religion. This quote shows the compassion of Mr. Rosenbach and Janet's loyalty to her employer.

"That's when he kissed me." (Janet Lovelace, Part 6, p. 317)

David, on an impulse, kisses Janet as he is cleaning a cat scratch on her face. David is a flirt and often acts on his impulses. He tells her right after the kiss that he made a mistake in kissing her, but it is too late, Janet thinks she is in love. This sets up a series of events which ends badly for both Janet and David. Janet, in her fourteen year old mind, rationalizes that if a man kisses a girl it means he wants to marry her. This leads her to plot out how to be with him, despite their class and religious differences.

"She's not as old as you think," Mimi interjected. "She's fourteen." (Mirele, Part 6, p. 368)

Mirele, called Mimi by the family, has just revealed to the whole family Janet's true age. She goes on to reveal Janet's real name also. She had been reading Janet's diary as a form of revenge against Janet. Mimi was angry, because Janet had suggested to Mimi's father that Mimi may need glasses, this is seen by her as an act of betrayal by Janet. Mimi was fitted for glasses, she thinks glasses make a girl look ugly; this is Mimi's interpretation of the circumstances. So when Janet is found in David's room, at night alone with him; Mimi decides to tell the family, the truth about Janet. Janet is horrified by the betrayal and at having her secret disclosed to everyone. In the end though it was for the best, because Mr. Rosenbach took pity on Janet, now once again called by her true name Joan. He gave her a scholarship to his new school. Joan has obtained her dream of being educated and she now can pursue the career of her choosing. Her life is no longer destined to be one of a servant. The Rosenbach family has an impact on Joan's life by changing her views on religion and class distinction. They have given her the opportunity to see how much ambition and education can change a person's life.

Related Links:

The Hired Girl Summary
The Hired Girl Quiz
The Hired Girl Part 7 Summary
The Hired Girl Part 1 Summary
The Hired Girl Part 2 Summary
The Hired Girl Important Characters
Literature Summaries

To link to this The Hired Girl Quotes page, copy the following code to your site: