Analysis Between Old World And New World Gender Roles

1726 words - 7 pages

Throughout American history, women, have been discriminated against and did not receive the same political as well as social rights as men since America was heavily a patriarchal society. Although women were still not on the same level of power as men in America, when women began to actually make social and political advancements in the early 20th century, their newfound liberty exceeded the independence that women of Old World cultures received and this if evident in the book Breadgivers Anna Yezierska. In the early half of the 20th century, a women's role in America was not only controlled by the society, but it was also profoundly defined by her culture. In Breadgivers, the daughter of Jewish immigrants must battle with assimilating to American values that encourage her to be more independent while her traditionally Jewish father tries to control her life in just about every aspect. The book clearly exhibits the results of when a woman assimilates to the American lifestyle as opposed to the women that accepts her more subservient role that other non-American cultures promoted.

Yezierska introduces the ideals of restricted women that gained her ideals from a traditional Old World culture. The mother of the family in Bread Givers was already molded by the conventional Jewish role of a woman which was to remain below the man of the household. The mother once told the father "I'm only a sinful woman" and later touched his hand as if the father was earth's ruler . This shows how the women that had not been raised in American society and had never been educated about the rights of women can accept being only a substructure in society. Also, immediately after the mother's comment about "only being a sinful women," Yezierska reaffirms the mother's acceptance of the less powerful figure by having the mother say "Nu [the father] you are the head of the family. " This verbal recognition goes beyond just the thoughts of individual feeling as if they are the powerless considering that when someone verbally says something, it shows that they are complete confidence that what they are saying is the truth and completely acceptable.

Although often times in society, a daughter's ideology and values often resemble the values of her mother, however Sara's recognition of her independence as a women is quite evident in her relationship between her and her father and it is definitely owed to her assimilation of American values. Sara believed "He was the Old World. I was the New. " The two often had conflicts because Sara strived for more independence and the father strived for more control and the two recognized that their differences were a result of the New World American culture and the Old World Jewish culture. The father once stated to Sara "You think millions of educated old maids like you could change the world one inch? Woe to America where women are let free like men. All, that's false in politics, prohibition, and all the evils...

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