Anzia Yezierska’s Novel, Bread Givers Essay

1339 words - 5 pages

Anzia Yezierska’s 1925 novel Bread Givers ends with Sara Smolinsky’s realization that her father’s tyrannical behavior is the product of generations of tradition from which he is unable to escape. Despite her desire to embrace the New World she has just won her place in, she attempts to reconcile with her father and her Jewish heritage. The novel is about the tension inherent in trying to fit Old and New worlds together: Reb tries to make his Old World fit into the new, while Sara tries to make her New World fit into the Old. Sara does not want to end up bitter and miserable like her sisters, but she does not want to throw her family away all together. Her struggle is one of trying to convince her patriarchal family to accept her as an independent woman, while assimilating into America without not losing too much of her past.
On the surface, Reb does represent the Old World, and Sara the New, but despite their being on opposite ends of the spectrum, they are remarkably similar characters: both believe in their own versions of the American Dream. Reb insists on leaving behind most of the family’s possessions because America is a “golden country, where milk and honey flow free in the streets” (9). The only possessions that are necessary are his books, “the light of the world” (9).
Reb is the product of thousands of years of patriarchal tradition; he has been brought up to believe that “God didn’t listen to women…Women could get into Heaven because they were wives and daughters of men. Women had no brains for the study of God’s Torah, but they could be the servants of men” (9). Reb’s behavior must be tyrannical because the eternal souls of his family rests on his shoulders, his wife and daughters are not capable of getting into Heaven on their own. His father-in-law specifically wanted him to spend twelve years doing nothing but studying in the synagogue (31). Reb holds the sanctity of his religion so deeply that he will not even consider getting a job as a Rabbi because he believes it would turn him into a “false prophet” selling his religion to “Americanized Jews” (111). Even after he is tricked into buying the grocery store, he insists that everything that happens is from God, “for our good” (125). Reb loves America for being the land of opportunity, where can start with nothing and end up becoming a millionaire like Rockefeller; but he despises it for granting too much to women: “Woe to America where women are let free like men” (205).
Sara has wanted to get away from her family her entire life: “I was always saying to myself, if I ever had a quarter or a half dollar in my hand, I’d run away from home and never look on our dirty house again” (22). But the instant she does have this money, her only desire is to go home and show everyone what she is capable of achieving. This is the essence of Sara’s struggle: her aspiration to become a teacher stems from her desire to prove to her family, specifically Reb, that she, as a...

Find Another Essay On Anzia Yezierska’s Novel, Bread Givers

The significance of the title in Anzia Yezierska's "Bread Givers".

1778 words - 7 pages Throughout a lifetime, one is constantly told time and time again to not judge a book by its cover. Those who invest a great deal of their time into literature, however, know that the title of a book in many cases is an indicator of the overall message the author wishes to convey to those willing to take the time to analyze the text. This certainly rings true for the novel Bread Givers. This novel explores many aspects of individuality and

Comparison of The Importance of Family in "Bread Givers", by Anzia Yezierska, and the movie "Avalon"

1497 words - 6 pages The Importance of FamilyBread Givers, a novel by Anzia Yezierska, is about a family who immigrates to the US from Russia. When they arrive to the US, they find themselves dealing with many struggles: one of them being keeping the family together. Similar to the Bread Givers is the movie Avalon in which one man, Sam Kirchinsky, immigrates to the US from Russia also. Once Sam establishes his family in the US, they also deal with the struggle of

"The Tormentors and Their Influences" Anzia Yezierska. Bread Givers. Harriet Jacobs. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

1259 words - 5 pages Jeffrey McGurrenOctober 14, 2002"The Tormentors and Their Influences"Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Bread Givers are novels which unfold the struggles that two young girls have to face under the strict laws of their tormenters. Reb Smolinsky and Doctor Flint are the burdens of the girls lives, and they know they must escape them. Reb Smolinsky is the father to Sara in Bread Givers and he plays the role of an unemployed and strictly

Freedom is Not Free in Bread Givers

2210 words - 9 pages Freedom is Not Free in Bread Givers       Anzia Yezierska in Bread Givers and "Children of Loneliness" explores the theme of reconciling assimilation to American culture and retaining her cultural heritage. "Richard F. Shepard asserted in the New York Times that Yezierska’s people…did not want to find themselves. They wanted to lose themselves and find America" (Gale Database 8). Rachel and Sara, the main characters, move ahead by

Bread Givers, analysis of Sara

2246 words - 9 pages Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Vol. 205. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. • "Overview: Bread Givers." Novels for Students. Ed. Sara Constantakis. Vol. 29. Detroit: Gale, 2009. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 2 May 2014. • "Turbulent Folkways of the Ghetto in a New Novel." The New York Times Book Review (13 Sept. 1925): 8. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Vol. 46. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 11 Apr. 2014 • Yezierska, Anzia, and Alice Harris. Bread givers: a novel ; with photographs. 3. ed. New York, NY: Persea Books, 2003. Print.

Analysis Between Old World and New World Gender Roles

1726 words - 7 pages the man since they get to act more liberated in the less significant aspects of life. Bread Givers is a novel that demonstrates how gender relations can come into conflict when two different cultures meet. Sara was a just a symbol of what many other daughters of immigrants faced upon coming to America. The conflicting values of the liberalism in America and conservatism of the Old World can sometimes separate a family or even result

The Struggles of Immigrant Women in the Early Twentieth Century

1075 words - 4 pages the family. While women did bring in wages as well, they were expected to care for the home and take care of the children. Because of this, women lacked the chance to go to school and become educated because it was boys who were mainly sent to school. Women were only expected to work and earn money to help support the family. In the novel Bread Givers, a book about an immigrant family in New York, one of the daughters named Sara explains her

A Common Struggle Depicted in Bread Givers and Of Plymouth Plantation 

2160 words - 9 pages a famine forced them to pickup and move westward into Egypt. Finally they moved back to Canaan and settled there between the years 1900 and 1700 B.C.(Potok 32,33). For hundreds of years they struggled against the ravages of famine and the brutality of the Canaanites. The story of the Jews is one of struggle in the realm of worship, peace and acceptance, and for a place to call home. In Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, the Smolinsky family

Symbols and Characters of "Bread Givers".

2046 words - 8 pages European Jews fled from pogroms, religious persecution and economic hardship. We can learn about those times from history text books, but a better way to understand the feelings and thoughts of the struggling emigrants is to learn a story from an insider, who herself lived there and experienced first hand all the challenges and hardships of the emigrants' life. Anzia Yezierska's novel "Bread Givers" is a story that lets the reader to learn about the

The Constitution and Freedom of Religion in the United States

1165 words - 5 pages States. According to Irwin S. Freedman, a Russian immigrant, Jews were heavily discriminated against. “We were not allowed to join country clubs and certain academic programs. It was often said that Ivy League schools rejected us because we were Jewish.” (Freedman). Similar to the story of Irwin Freedman, many Jews experienced poverty, as illustrated by the Smolinksy family in the novel, Bread Givers. Both Catholics and Jews immigrated to the

Assimilation and Resistance in The Joy Luck Club and Bread Givers

2108 words - 8 pages . However, it is the transference of the belief in the Dream that further enables assimilation to take place for the second and third generations in spite of hardship. In Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska, Berel Bernstein realizes what it takes to realize the American Dream when he declares, "In America everybody got to earn his living first" (48). However, it is Sonia’s belief that success is attainable that keeps her going in the face of dislike from

Similar Essays

Anzia Yezierska’s Novel Bread Givers And Assimilation Of Jews

1363 words - 5 pages Anzia Yezierska’s novel Bread Givers and Assimilation of Jews An entire chapter of Eric Liu’s memoir, The Accidental Asian, is founded on the supposition that Jews today serve as a metaphor for assimilation into American culture. According to Liu, this is due to the ease with which Jews have been able to assimilate. However, the progress that Jews have made in embracing and affecting America has been gradual rather than instantaneous

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

Generational Differences In Yezierska’s Bread Givers

3390 words - 14 pages Generational Differences in Yezierska’s Bread Givers       Anzia Yezierska’s most-taught novel, Bread Givers, "is an extensive observation of relationships in an immigrant family of early 20th century America" (Sample 1). Noticeably, one of the most fascinating qualities of Yezierska’s work is that, though most readers probably come from significantly different backgrounds than that of her characters, she writes in a manner that allows

Comparing Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers And Soap And Water

2436 words - 10 pages Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers and Soap and Water     In Anzia Yezierska's works Bread Givers and "Soap and Water", she uses similar aspects of the characters that portray her own life. Both of the stories resemble similarities of Yezierska's life and appear to be autobiographical to her personal experiences. The author portrays, in both the stories, a belief that the majority culture is "clean" while the minority culture is dirty