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Industrial Revolution Empathy Task – Ned Pilkington

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I am 9 years old now. My birthday was yesterday. I live with my mama, my papa, and my three siblings: Heather (13 yrs.), Peter (2 yrs.), and Rosemary (6 months).

Today was going to be another exhausting day as usual. I woke up at 4 am to go to work at the factory. My sister Heather and I walked there. We were running late. I didn’t get to eat breakfast. I have not in a very long time. Once I got to work I started to work on the dress that I had started yesterday. It is a very long procedure I am only barely started, this one will take me all week. Someone was staring at me. It was the man in the uniform. He kept yelling at me because I was looking out the window. My sister whispered for me to quit it because we really need the money. Outside the window I saw some boys and girls, just like me, playing in the street. I felt emotions that I have never experienced before. I was angry and jealous of those kids. That man beat me with a stick for not working. My punishment was unfair. My back and backside are turning purple from all the bruising. I do not understand why those kids are allowed to be out there playing and I’m not. I didn’t get my usual half hour lunch break. He made me work straight through it! My stomach growled. My hands and back ached. I wish I could go out in play like those other kids. But I bet they would stare at me. I have a hunched back and my arms are not in proportion to my tiny body. I worked long and hard until Heather told me it was time to leave. We had been let go. Our shift was done. It is 6pm. It is getting dark now, nearly as dark as what it was when we left this morning.

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My days are so terribly long. I used to only work 10 hours a day. Since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, I work 14 hours a day with only two short breaks: one for lunch and one for supper. Some days I have no breaks. Today I never got a break. My wage is only 20 cents a day, but most boys younger than me get 25 to 30 cents. The man in uniform is so mean, I did not even get to eat today. I don’t understand why. Mommy and Daddy say I have to work or we will be living on the streets. Papa has to work but he gets breaks and it is not fair on us kids. He gets paid so much more as well, we get nothing compared to what he gets paid. And he also doesn’t work in the conditions we do, it’s so dirty in the factories.

Life is so unfair.

Love,

Violet

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