The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets
by Jane Addams
OF her pre-eminent qualifications to interpret and represent her town, Jane Addams' book, "The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets," is in evidence. ... Show synopsis OF her pre-eminent qualifications to interpret and represent her town, Jane Addams' book, "The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets," is in evidence. The identifications it establishes between her own most human life and all the lives and city-wide interests which live and move and have their own true being in this volume attest our claims of her interpreting power. Both in the title and contents of this volume she has contributed a distinct addition to our knowledge and literature descriptive of the psychology of youth and of the conditions of city life. Originality in illustration and reasoning such as can be attained only through the insights of the most sympathetic experience appears on every page. And yet the volume deals with conditions so commonly observed and with experiences so obviously natural to growing youth that the discussion seldom eludes either the attention or the grasp of the reader, however unaware he may have been of the acute situations described. At no point of her plea to consider the spirit of youth can anyone escape the power and pathos of the argument against the toleration of conditions which brutally suppress the very nature of childhood and youth or of the argument for the free development and worthy direction of youthful ideals and energies, now so largely lost or forced into antagonism to social progress. Out of "the wrecked foundations of domesticity," the thwarted "quest for adventure," the ignored "house of dreams," a wistful, overconfident creature is pictured as walking through our streets and calling out "I am the spirit of Youth! With me all things are possible." And then those who hear and see this figure of the future are faced with these alternatives: "We may either smother the divine fire of youth or we may feed it. We may either stand stupidly staring as it sinks into a murky fire of crime and flares into the intermittent blaze of folly, or we may tend it into a lambent flame with power to make clean and bright our dingy city streets."