The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman

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Student Question

Why wasn't Alyce the apprentice Jane needed in The Midwife's Apprentice?

Expert Answers

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I would probably argue that Alyce is exactly what Jane needed in an apprentice; however, Alyce is exactly what Jane did not want in an apprentice.  Alyce is a motivated young lady.  She wants to learn Jane's trade.  She wants to help with bringing new life into the world, and she wants to help people get better.  She's intelligent, eager to learn, and isn't afraid of challenges.  Alyce is exactly the kind of student that a teacher wants to work with.  Unfortunately, Jane is not looking for a motivated student to teach.  Jane is looking for a helper with a weak will.  That way Jane can control her apprentice.  Jane wants an apprentice who does exactly what she is told to do and nothing more.  Jane doesn't want competition in her trade, which is why she intentionally keeps pertinent midwife training and knowledge away from Alyce.  In Jane's opinion, Alyce isn't what she needs, because Jane is too much of an independent apprentice.  

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