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Bread Givers Essay

1857 words - 8 pages

According to Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life, between 1880 and about World War I, the vast majority of Eastern European Jews and Southern Italians came to the United States populating neighborhoods in New York and the Lower East Side is the best example. One thing, which was common to the immigrant experience is that, all immigrants come to the United States as the “land of opportunity”. They come to America with different types of expectations that are conditioned by their origins and families. But every immigrant comes to America wanting to make himself/herself into a person, to be an individual and to become somebody. In this case, the author showed in Bread Givers, Sarah’s desire to make herself into something and bring something unique to America, which only she can bring. It is an effort to understand the immigrants, particularly Jewish immigrants, from a woman’s point of view. The book shows that it was a challenge for Jewish immigrant children, particularly females, on the account of the intensity of their family’s connections and obligations that was so critical for the immigrant communities. This was true for the immigrants who came to settle in the neighborhoods like the one Sarah and her family settled in.

Bread Givers is a book about Jewish heritage and culture. The plot is about the touching story of a young woman growing up, finding herself, trying to find her way to success, while dealing with day-by-day problems. It is about four daughters, their caring and gentle mother and their very bossy and tyrannical father. The father married them off, one by one to men that they did not really like. For the most part, these men turned out to be complete morons and self-centered. The father is a cultural misogynist. As he said “it says in the Torah, only through a man as a woman an existence”(Yezierska, 153). He is a very old-fashioned Jewish conservative. Most of the men portrayed in the book are portrayed as unpleasant; even some of the suitors that some of the sisters found on their own were not pleasant. For example, Sarah found Max Goldstein who was an obstacle to her education and progress. Most of the men mostly cared about money.

Bessie Smolinksy is the eldest of the four sisters and the hardest worker of the family. She married a man. His name was Zalmon and he was a fish seller. She was forced to marry Zalmon by her dreadful and selfish father. No one has ever wanted Bessie and no one had any hope of anyone ever wanting Bessie until a suitor came but he was discouraged because her father wanted money and to be guaranteed that he would be taken care of. His name was Berel Bernstein and he was a clothes seller. However, Bernstein was not good enough for Bessie’s critical father so he chose Zalmon for her. Bessie adored Zalmon’s son, Benny, which was the only reason she continued to be okay with living with him.

Mashah Smolinsky is the middle daughter of the family. She is...

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