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Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers Essay

1147 words - 5 pages

Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers

Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers attacks several social norms of both her
traditional Polish homeland and the American life her protagonist has come
to know. Clearly autobiographical, Bread Givers boldly questions why certain
social and religious traditions continue throughout the centuries without
the slightest consideration for an individual's interests or desires. Sara's
traditional Jewish upbringing exposed her to a life dominated by patriarchal
control; when she arrived in New York to seek out the American Dream, she
found that once again her gender would stand in the way of such desires. In
spite of these cultural barriers, her mother understood Sara's burning quest
to break free from traditional molds: "...When she begins to want a thing,
there is no rest, no let-up till she gets it" (Yezierska PG).

What is the American Dream, and who are the people most likely to pursue its
often-elusive fulfillment? Indeed, the American Dream has come to represent
the attainment of myriad goals that are specific to each individual; while
one person might consider a purchased home with a white picket fence her
version of the American Dream, another might regard it as the financial
ability to operate his own business. Clearly, there is no cut and dried
definition of the American Dream as long as any two people hold a different
meaning. What it does universally represent, however, is the opportunity for
people like Sara to seek out their individual and collective desires under a
political umbrella of democracy. "More and more I began to think inside
myself, I don't want to sell [fish] for the rest of my days. I want to learn
something. I want to do something. I want some day to make myself for a
person and come among people" (Yezierska PG).

Driven to the United States by way of their oppressive homeland, Sara's
family may have believed that this nation's streets are paved with gold
where opportunities abound for lifelong prosperity, however, none of them
took the initiative to find out for themselves. Rather, they were content to
scrape out a meager living just to have adequate food on the table and a
roof over their heads. Sara would have none of this, realizing early on that
if she wanted to make something of herself she would have to work many times
harder than her male counterpart - a sacrifice she was more than willing to
make if it meant establishing a life of her own. "How glad I was that I had
not stopped at the husk-a good job-a good living-but pressed on, through the
barriers of materialism. Through my inarticulate groping and reaching-out I
had found the soul-the spirit-of America!" (Yezierska PG).

Sara's experiences during her migration to the United States mirrors those
of others who, like her, sought a better life than the one they left behind
in their homelands. Marred by frequent struggles and frustration, the life
of an immigrant was also a source of happiness...

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