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Failure 1881–83

Failure 1881–83

(p.109) Chapter 5 Failure 1881–83
University of Chicago Press

Jane Addams presents her father's decision about how Jane ought to spend her time after 1881 as simply a practical one involving her health, but John Addams also believed that each question of behavior had a moral dimension. In addressing the subject of how Jane ought to spend the coming year, he had available to him the most powerful argument a father could make to a daughter against pursuing something she desired—that to do so would be selfish, would be caring more for her own happiness than for her family's. Did her father make this second argument? It appears that he did. In the 1890s, after Jane Addams moved to Chicago, she gave a series of speeches at women's colleges about the woman graduate whose family opposed her future plans and who charged her with selfishness for wanting to pursue her dreams. These speeches, searing in their frank portrayal of the graduate's and her family's pain, are too vivid to leave much doubt that she was speaking from first-hand experience.

Keywords:   moral dimension, happiness, Jane Addams, dreams, selfishness, first-hand experience, human behavior

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