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From your reading of 'The Fenland Chronicle' discuss the farmers view of what life is like for girls in service. Consider the way the story is told, what is revealed about the narrator and the daily routines of a maid.

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Introduction

From your reading of 'The Fenland Chronicle' discuss the farmers view of what life is like for girls in service. Consider the way the story is told, what is revealed about the narrator and the daily routines of a maid. The 'Fenland Chronicle', by Sybill Marshall, is an oral history piece, and its various areas are interesting not only historically but also linguistically. These will be analysed below. The language and structure used in the piece links in with the narrator and the life for girls in service, which will be discussed later. The piece is not perfectly structured, as, being an oral history, which was spoken, recorded and then had it's transcript written down, did not allow the author time to carefully organise his or her ideas as one would when writing on paper. The piece does have a general structure, as the first paragraph appears to be an introduction to the life of girls in service, given personal opinions and basic descriptions of the "farmers", a "jumped up, proud lot". The paragraph becomes more specific towards the end as it focuses on a girl in service named Eva and an anecdotal episode. ...read more.

Middle

The word "dirty, nasty, vulgar old man" and "no decent girl was safe with" suggests an element of sexual abuse, which is looked at further later. A number of things are revealed about the narrator throughout the piece. From the beginning, we can see that she believes that "good service...were a wonderful training for a lot o' girls". However, we also see that she believes that farmers, who are discussed later, "di'n't know how to treat the people who worked for 'em." This is reinforced as the author refers to an incident where a heartless farmer sends a girl to clean a room with a dead corpse lying in it, as discussed previously. This also emphasises the sense of compassion and feeling the narrator has for the girls in service, as if she sees this event as being extremely cruel as well as slightly humorous. We see compassion shown with the phrase "poor little mite", and an impression that she herself has been in service. A humble, warm attitude is seen as she seems both humorous and at the same time blunt, having no hesitation in calling the shepherd a "dirty, nasty, vulgar old man", and the farmers "a jumped up, proud lot", suggesting that these people had money, but not the manners or sense to go with it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, an element of abuse is brought into the life of the girl in service as "lambing time" meant spending time in the company of the shepherd, who, as explained previously, appears to be sexually abusing the children through the hints given in the passage. The final paragraph finishes on a saddened, resigned note, as we see that for a years work, only five pounds was given, all of which was sent back to the family. We can see from this lifestyle that the child led a very sad, isolated, and miserable existence. However, it is important to remember that the author has only described the life of a girl in service for a farmer, not in one of the "big houses", which Marshall speaks more positively of. However, his positive attitude is negated throughout the piece as we see that many children as subjected to a life of misery and isolation. In conclusion, I believe that this is a useful piece of historical evidence in looking at the life of a girl in service. It also examines class consciousness by attacking the farmers and their lifestyle and values. It also explains the poor conditions that girls were subjected to, as well as shedding some light on the identity of the author them self. ...read more.

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