Study Guide

Twenty Years at Hull-House

by Jane Addams

Twenty Years at Hull-House Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction Twenty Years at Hull-House Analysis

While Twenty Years at Hull-House is an autobiography in the strict sense of the word, it is much more an account of a place than it is of a life. Addams mentions her own life only as it pertains to her work. The early part of her life is covered only to the point that it influenced her later work at Hull-House. The reader is never quite sure of the illness from which Addams suffered throughout her life. Other than her father and the long-lasting influence he had on his daughter, relatives are scarcely mentioned. Addams puts her personal life aside as Hull-House takes precedence.

Although the book was written for an adult audience and presents certain difficulties because of the writing style of its day, it is nevertheless a worthwhile book for young people to read. Many of the people who drift through the pages of the book, almost always nameless, are real. The horrible conditions of life in the slums and the dreary, hardworking lives of the young people become very tangible for a young reader of today.

Addams spends much of the book relating the stories of real people to emphasize her points. When she writes of the need for child labor laws, she cites example after example of children forced to work long hours in wretched conditions for pitiful wages. Addams’ opinions of the men and women she describes are clearly evident. Most of the men in the book are portrayed as abusive and selfish, while the women are hardworking,...

(The entire section is 530 words.)