Mrs. Alexander’s tale entitled “Smart Little Paul” is a true story, as she seems to indicate at the end (this is also supported by the fact that she only revealed to us the initial of the family’s last name, a common practice in classic literature when a name was not known or the author wanted to conceal it). And it illustrates, I believe, one of her “pet peeves” if you will. However, I am having a little difficulty in figuring out what exactly bothered her about the situation.
I can certainly say that I disagree with Dr. and Mrs. F——’s parenting methods, and I agree with the conclusions Mrs. Alexander and her friend made at the end of the story:
“I don’t think that boy will make a good man,” I answered. “His parents brag on him so much, he will be all conceit by the time he is grown, and a swindler and gambler, most likely, as his father says ‘he will do anything for money.’”
However, it’s clear that it is not only the greed, selfishness, and love of money that shocked Mrs. Alexander and her friend. It also had to do with the fact that this money-making was being done on the Lord’s day:
[M]y friend remarked as the door closed behind them: “Now you see what makes bad children; and that is just the reason there are so many bad men in the world. Children are brought up with no regard for the Lord’s day, and parents are to blame for it.”
Did they consider this work, and thus not appropriate for Sunday? I am not really sure. It is clear though that this all had something to do with it being the Lord’s day. What do you think? Can you give me any insight on this unique story?
It was partially because of things like this that I was attracted to Ailenroc’s Book. She was a member of the Lord’s church, and I find it interesting to see her beliefs through her writings, and see how they differ from those held today. Of course, she was incorrect to think that certain things are forbidden on Sunday; this belief tries to borrow from the old Jewish law. But all in all, those things she believed were based on the truth of Scripture, and I am comforted to think that even then, 110 years ago, there were God-fearing Christians in this country, serving Him as He specified in His Word.
Now, discuss! That’s what this post is for, after all.
One thought to “Smart Little Paul – Discussion”
I think you’re right that they were offended about him making money on the Lord’s day. My guess would be that all sorts of amusements like that, where you pay to see something, like at a carnival or circus, were just not considered appropriate for Sunday.
Myself, I was more offended by the bank itself. This is an excellent example of how people thought of black people as lower than themselves. Because of course, it wouldn’t have been funny if it had been a white man!