The Defining of Childhood Essay

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Childhood is difficult to define because there any many variables involved, which can affect the outcome. Society gauges one’s social graces by one’s exact age and expects certain norms for specific ages. Historical era plays a great part in defining who a person is and within each era one’s social class and geographical location also varied one’s development. Going back in time to the pre-civil war era, we clearly begin to see three classes of American society: the wealthy planation family, the middle class family, and the slave family. On a typical southern plantation, the older slave children had the daily task of watching over and caring for the younger children, while their parents labored in the fields. The elderly slaves, who were …show more content…
The middle class of this time period were the tradesmen in town. Their children were educated and had the option to follow in their parents’ footsteps or pursuing their own means of supporting their family. During the early 1900s, most middle-class American families were agricultural and everyone did their own part working on the family farm. The father and his sons would primarily handle plowing the field and doing the hard, laborious tasks; while the mother and her daughters would spend their days doing housework (ie: cooking, washing, dusting) and caring for the livestock. During this time period, it was not unusual for children to forgo their education in order to assist their parents with the farm especially during planting and harvesting seasons. Lower class families did not have the financial stability to own farms and had to live closer to cities. The lower class children living in or near a city were forced to sacrifice their education in order to support their families by working in factories. These factories were dangerous and the children toiled for extended hours without respite. The factory owners were aware that there was a city full of poor children that would be willing to work for them. If one child was seriously injured, then another would be waiting to fill in the gap. All the while, upper class children lived comfortably growing up in America’s elite society. These children went to school, played cricket or marbles, and had a few daily tasks in

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