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Child Labour Commentary

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The text is a speech “Florence Kelley Speaks Against Child Labor” from Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park. The intended audience of this speech is the citizens in the United States, especially people who are the entrepreneurs of the American industries, the US government officials and legislators. Targeted at both genders, this speech targets at adults. This is because adults have the ability to voice out and take action against child labour in the society, they are able to give a helping hand to the children. This speech also aims at middle to high-income groups as Kelley is trying to draw their attention towards the issue of child labour. The purpose of the speech is to inform people about the consequences and negative impact of child labour on children. Most importantly, Kelley makes effective use of language, numerical figures and data and the overall structure to convince and persuade the American industries to adopt human conditions, enlist the workingmen voters and free the children from toil.

Throughout the speech, Kelley uses language in order to engage readers’ feelings towards the child labour in the United States. For instance, in the first sentence of the speech, Kelley says, “We have, in this country, two million children under the age of sixteen years who are earning their bread.” Here, Kelley uses inclusive pronoun “we” to help readers to engage in the serious situation of the child labour. Another example of language is in paragraph 10, Kelley says, “But we are almost powerless. Not wholly powerless, however, are citizens who enjoy the right of petition.” Here, she uses repetition and repeats the word “powerless” to express her feelings towards child labour. This helps to draw people’s attention towards this issue. Moreover, in the speech, Kelley says, “Tonight while we sleep, several thousand little girls will be working in textile mills, all the night through, in the deafening noise of the spindles the looms spinning and weaving cotton and wool, silks and ribbons for us to buy.” In this example, Kelley uses repeats the word “and” for four times. The use of repetition here emphasizes how child labours suffer the noise produced from the machines during working in the factories. This helps readers to evoke a sense of sympathy towards the unfortunate children working in the factories.

In addition, the overall effect of numerical figures and data is to give evidence of Kelley’s credibility and validity of her speech. For example, Kelley says, “We have, in this country, two million children under the age of sixteen years who are earning their bread.” Here, the use of numerical figure “two million” illustrates the exact number of children who are child labours. This also helps to support the serious situation of child labour with factual data. Also, in paragraph 6, Kelley says, “A girl of six or seven years, just tall enough to reach the bobbins, may work eleven hours by day or by night.” In this quotation, Kelley uses numerical figures, “six or seven” and “eleven” to point out the hardship that the children are facing every night since they need to work for around eleven hours by day or by night but they are only six or seven year-old. Those children are too young to work for the society. This example depicts that the children are not strong enough physically to work for many hours per day or night. This further makes the readers to sympathize the plight of the children.

Furthermore, within the context of the speech, the primary significance of overall structure is to emphasize the significant increase in earning in child labour. For instance, Kelley uses one sentence in paragraph 2. Kelley says “No other portion of the wage earning class increased so rapidly from decade to decade as the young girls from fourteen to twenty years”. Kelley uses isolated paragraph in order to highlight the momentous increase in the amount of profit made by the child labour. This helps to show that more and more children are suffering, as there is a significant increasing trend of adopting child labours. Similarly, this speech uses present tense in general to convey a sense of immediacy. Since Kelley hopes to influence people to cooperate with her and solve the social problem of child labour, she uses present tense to inform and persuade the readers to take action from now on.

Overall, Kelley’s speech “Florence Kelley Speaks Against Child Labor” from Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park effectively informs and persuades readers to cooperate with her and fight for the rights of child labour through the use of language, data and numerical figures and overall structure. I personally think that the most vital technique used in the speech is rhetorical questions since these questions help to create resonance. Thus, readers are more able to understand the feelings of the child labour. This helps readers to evoke a sense of sympathy towards the women child labour and draw people’s attention to the recent important issue. As a result, this helps to attain the goal of Kelley.

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