Bread Givers Paper
Anzia Yezierska’s novel and semi-autobiographical book, Bread Givers is a fantastic look into the lives of the Smolinsky’s, a family of Polish-Jewish immigrants living in New York. The story follows Reb Smolinsky, the father of four daughters and a man who does not work but instead studies and preaches the word of the Torah, Shennah, the mother of four daughters named Bessie, Mashah, Fania, and Sara. The book is narrated by the youngest daughter Sara Smolinsky, whose point of view offers insight into the struggles of being an immigrant family, weighed down by the burdens of poverty, in addition to the every day occurrences within ...view middle of the document...
In the case of when Mashah fell in love with a rich pianist named Jacob Novak, Reb disapproved of him because he would play piano on the Sabbath day, an act forbidden by the Torah. Reb forbade his daughter from seeing Jacob Novak again and set her up with a man named Moe Misky. Moe Misky informed Reb that he was a very rich Diamond-dealer. However, after Mashah married Moe, just to appease her father and get away from his dictating rule, she found he was not in fact a diamond-dealer but the salesman for a diamond-dealer. Moe had fooled Reb and consequently the family, which resulted in Mashah now being stuck with a man she had no real interest in. Due to her father’s harsh judgment and stubbornness, Mashah was subjected to an almost debilitating fate. In a similar situation, Fania met a writer and poet named Morris Lipkin, and upon bringing him home, Reb immediately criticized him for being too poor to afford a haircut and dubbed him a beggar. Although this was the true love of Fania, Reb decided to instead set her up with a man named Abe Schmukler, a millionaire cloaks and suits salesman. Fania, like Marsha, married Abe only for the sake of fleeing from her father’s rule. However shortly after marrying him and moving to Los Angeles, she began to inform the family that Abe had a serious gambling problem. Lastly, in the case of Bessie, she fell in love with a man named Berrel Bernstein, and when Berrel asked for Reb’s approval to marry his daughter, Reb informed Berrel that Berrel would now have support him financially, as Bessie often gave up her wages to allow Reb to study the Torah instead of having to work. Berrel was obviously opposed to this idea, and stated that the American way is to take care of yourself, not to be dependent on others to keep you financially afloat. And so yet another relationship of the daughters was destroyed at the hands of Reb. Reb then sets up Bessie with Zalmon the fish peddler, a man with six children and a wife who had recently died. Bessie was vehemently opposed to marring Zalmon, but upon meeting his youngest son felt the need to mother him, and so she left the house to marry Zalmon and take care of his six children. Sara witnessed her father Reb systematically destroy her sisters love lives and marry them off to men of questionable nature, sealing their unhappy fates. After Sara witnessed this, a strong desire grew within her to escape her father and his preaching, and to not end up like her sisters.
Reb received five hundred dollars from Zalmon the fish peddler for his matchmaking deeds, and with this five hundred dollars, purchased a grocery store in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He found the grocery store listed in the classified ads in the newspaper. The man selling the grocery store was claiming he had to quickly depart for Russia and sell his business for the sum of four hundred Dollars. Reb knew that the grocery store was worth at least four thousand dollars, and so seized the opportunity. Shennah, and Sara...