“Daddy Long Legs” by Jean Webster Essay
“Daddy Long Legs” by Jean Webster
Daddy Long Legs was written by Jean Webster on 1912. Her books often feature young female protagonists who develop into a beautiful butterfly from being a caterpillar, so to speak. They mature intellectually, socially and morally. Jerusha “Judy” Abbott is the perfect example. She is an 18-year old girl who grew up in an orphanage. She became sort of a helper as well in the orphanage since she is one of the eldest there. One day, one of the trustees that visit the orphanage every first Wednesday of the month offered Judy an opportunity to go to college as long as she becomes a writer and a monthly letter will be sent regarding the progress of her college life. The offer also mentioned that the benefactor remains unknown and replies will not be given. She can only communicate with the secretary. Throughout college, Judy met new friends from different social classes, saw the world outside the orphanage and honed her skill in writing.
She was able to write several poems and books that were rejected but still pursued until she perfected a book that satisfied the standards of one of the several publishing house where she sent her stories. She never spoiled herself too much because she felt that the world does not owe her anything. In the end, she got her book published and fell in love. By just reading the title, one won’t know what the book is all about until one reads it. The book took me by surprise since I had a different kind of story in mind. I loved the book because it showed hope, kindness, determination and love. It showed hope on the part of Judy Abbott for after spending her childhood in an orphanage she was given a chance to see the world outside the John Grier Home by going to college. The book is also composed of a series of letters written by Judy regarding her progress in college which is rather a one-sided correspondence. I do imagine where Judy is coming from.
While growing up, Judy never experienced what it is like to have a family or anyone for that matter showing the slightest interest in her and then suddenly, someone starts showering you with kindness, I’ll be very grateful for that. Although the deal was clearly said to Judy that no reply will be given from her benefactor, Judy still continued writing with humour, honesty, and life as if she really knew Daddy Long Legs. She kept her feet on the ground that she never let neither the new environment she is in nor the gifts that Daddy Long Legs gave her change who she is but has helped her mold who she is going to be. Throughout college, Judy transformed into a lively and attractive young woman. She takes enormous delight in the little pleasures of ordinary life and believed in free will. She believes that regretting the past and anticipating the future makes you miss out the beauty of life that the present has to offer. The book, however, ended with Judy falling in love with Jervie Pendleton who happens to be Daddy Long Legs. The ending was romantic but also bothered me a bit since there is a fourteen year age gap between the two. But I guess, with the setting in 1912, women fell in love with more mature men.
Judy even considered Daddy Long Legs her composite family. But WHAT CAN I SAY? True love prevails. It was justified at the end that Judy fell in love with Jervie Pendleton and NOT Daddy Long Legs who just happens to be her benefactor. It’s such a sweet finish but left me hanging. It would have been better if Judy did not leave Jervie while recovering from illness. It was mentioned, however, that they will be reunited again. I will definitely recommend this book. It is simple yet has a twist in the storyline. It is a wonderful story and it is a surprise love story because you’ll think that it is just a story of an orphaned girl who becomes an author with the help of a stranger. You won’t realize who loves whom until you get right to the very end. The love-hate-anger-gratitude relationship between Judy and the benefactor is also quite interesting. It appeals to all ages, young and old. It is easy to read because of the letter format.