Florence Kelley Child Labor Speech Summary

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Children from as young as the age of 6 began working in factories, the beginning of their exploitation, to meet demands of items and financial need for families. In Florence Kelley’s speech before the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Philadelphia 1905, Kelley addresses the overwhelming problem of child labor in the United States. The imagery, appeal to logic, and the diction Kelley uses in her speech emphasizes the exploitation of children in the child labor crisis in twentieth century America.
Kelley’s use of imagery assists her audience in visualizing the inhumanity of the practice. She begins by talking about the amount of children and the drastic rate of increase of the wage class. Kelley then uses the quote “Tonight while
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Kelley introduces the idea that there should be regulations on child labor and New Jersey, at one point, had good labor regulations until this point: “Now, therefore, in New Jersey, boys and girls, after their 14th birthday enjoy the pitiful privilege of working all night long.” (lines 43-45). The phrase “pitiful privilege” is an oxymoron. A privilege is a special right or something that is not available to everyone and this is saying that it is pitiful, or inadequate, which it is. The choice of using the oxymoron shows thought and word choice that keeps the audience thinking. Kelley then brings the opinion of the mothers and teachers into her argument. She uses the quote “Would the New Jersey Legislature have passed that shameful repeal bill enabling girls of fourteen years to work all night, if the mothers in New Jersey were enfranchised?” (lines 59-62). Using the word shameful does not give good connotation to Kelley’s point and gives it a negative tone. She claims that New Jersey was “enabling girls” to work all night; this means that New Jersey is giving fourteen year old girls the authority to do something, while if their mothers were enfranchised or given the right to vote, they may not be in this position. Kelley’s diction adds a tone to the piece and allows her to get her message across with helping the reader understand more deeply .
Kelley’s use of imagery, appeal to logic,
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