Paine uses the symbolism of parent and child to argue that America has outgrown its dependence on Great Britain and should seek independence. For example, he argues that delayed independence keeps America in a state of perpetual childhood: “we may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat[.]” In this sense, he encourages his readers to be courageous and optimistic about independence, rather than fearing America’s failure without its current ties to Britain. Paine also uses the metaphor of parenthood to argue that England has forfeited any respect it was owed as “mother” by acting oppressively toward its colonial “child.” Finally, he uses the “child” metaphor in a more positive sense by suggesting that America should take advantage of its youthful vigor in order to cultivate healthy habits of nationhood: “youth is the seed time of good habits […] a memorable aera for posterity to glory in.” In contrast to the heredity monarchy of Great Britain, what Paine portrays as an antiquated system, he encourages his readers to think of America as young and vital in its ability to be molded into a fair representative democracy.
Parent and Child Quotes in Common Sense
We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had any thing to do with her. The commerce, by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.