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One of the short stories in Maria Edgeworth's novel The Parent's Assistant or Stories for Children is Lazy Lawrence. The series gives children life lessons through the story of a young boy named Jem. Jem lives in the village of Ashton, where he looks after his elderly and sickly mother. Jem agrees to work hard and pay their rent in order to keep his mother from selling his horse in order to collect enough funds to pay their rent and feed them. Jem gets a career and saves every penny he makes. As he tries to ambush his girlfriend, he learns that his entire savings have been stolen. However, he is able to find the boys’ whole stole his savings due to a lucky penny given to him by a trader.
Lazy Lawrence is intended to teach children valuable life lessons that will be useful in future. The story communicates to children the importance of engaging in valuable activities that will assist them in accomplishing their goals and objectives. The story teaches children the importance of motivation in life and the need to avoid giving up even in adverse life situations. In Lazy Lawrence, Maria Edgeworth challenges children to adopt strong and positive moral behaviors. This was shown by the constant visits that Jem accorded to Lawrence who was the lazy boy that stole all his savings. This showed that even though Lawrence stole his savings, he was still his friend and cared for him as he was able to visit him with presents that he could afford. This is an excellent lesson for children to be compassionate towards one another even if their friend offends them.
In the story, Jem is a caring and respectful young boy who takes care of his old mother. This can be seen in the story where Preston says “God bless the boy! How he talks! ---Four mile there, and four mile back again, afore breakfast.” By reading this story, children are encouraged to become obedient to obtain the blessings from their parents as Jem was blessed by Preston. The story also motivates children to become hardworking and persevering. Despite his young age, Jem was able to secure a job with a mistress and decides to save all his earnings. This can be seen in the book which states that “Early in the morning he awakened full of this scheme, jumped up, dressed himself, and having given one look at poor Lightfoot in his stables, set off to Clinton in search of the old woman, to enquire where she found her sparkling stones. But it was too early in the morning, the old woman was not in her seat.” As children begin to reflect upon the Lazy Lawrence story, they are able to develop the affinity for hard work and perseverance to become as successful as Jem in the story. In the story, age is a non-issue. Jem was determined and motivated to find a source of income despite his age. This can be seen in the story where Jem said that “I will earn SOMETHING, if it be so little, it will be SOMETHING and I shall do my very best.” This is important in convincing children to solve problems that they encounter in life without thinking about their age.
Maria Edgeworth. “The Parent’s Assistant or Stories for Children” George Routledge And Sons, Limited Broadway, Ludgate Hill (1891)
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