“CARNEGIE’S MAID,” BY MARIE BENEDICT

Clara Kelley is a fictional character playing the role of a non-fictional character, called an immigrant.
She works as a lady’s maid to Andrew Carnegie’s mother, Mrs. Carnegie. She actually has it good, an Irish immigrant just off the boat, mistaken for another Clara Kelley who died on the boat ride over.

She lives among the sumptuous luxury of the Carnegie Mansion in Pittsburgh, Penn. and as a Lady’s maid she is belittled, sleeps in box size room, cleans and dresses Mrs. Carnegie, and probably cleans her butt after using the bathroom.

Andrew Carnegie takes a liken to her and we are to believe falls in love with her. Andrew Carnegie, in real life was a complicated individual, a brutal businessman who had no problem paying his workers’ the bare minimum under terrible working conditions, and later in his life literally transforming himself into one of the greatest philanthropist of his time…just take a walk around NYC and see how many libraries and concert halls are named after him. Ms. Benedict captures the true Mr. Carnegie in her delightful novel, but what she truly captures is the inhumane conditions that immigrants, in this case Irish immigrants, had to live through after arriving in America not for a few years but decades after decades.

The biggest lie in American history is engraved in our ever revered Statue of Liberty: “Give me Your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Emma Lazarus

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