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48 pages 1 hour read

Marie Benedict

Carnegie's Maid

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Character Analysis

Clara Kelley

At the beginning of the story, in 1863, Clara is a 19-year-old Irish immigrant. She is red-haired and attractive. Her parents have sent her to America to earn money because she is the most intelligent and resourceful of their three daughters. Though Clara comes from a moderately well-to-do farming family, the landlord is about to dispossess the Kelleys of their tenancy, and Clara becomes the sole means of support for her parents and siblings.

Because she places her duty to her family above all else, Clara bluffs her way into a job as a lady’s maid for the wealthy Carnegie family. She learns quickly and soon makes herself indispensable to the demanding Mrs. Carnegie. Clara frequently agonizes over the fact that her good fortune is predicated on a lie. However, for the sake of her family, she must maintain the pretense of being an experienced upper-level servant.

Clara’s innate intelligence soon causes her to consider the best way to make her fortune in America. She absorbs an encyclopedic knowledge of American business and wins the respect and admiration of tycoon Andrew Carnegie. Given the class differences between them, their relationship is eventually destroyed, but not before Clara inspires Andrew to use his wealth for the betterment of the working class.

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