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. Sarah in Bread Givers and the narrator in "Soap and Water" each have a hunger that drive them in different directions: actual hunger for food, progress into society and a hunger for knowledge. The ladies in both of the stories share similar desires: to become a teacher, go to college, and feed a constant hunger. Though the stories are alike they differ in some areas: outcomes of college life, self -portrayal and chances of getting started in the professional world.


Yezierska's work appears to reflect her own lifestyle. In fact, since the use of the first person narration many think that her work his autobiographical. Most of her works portray the Immigrant woman is in pursuit of the American dream (Drucker 1-3).  Like the Characters in Yezierska's stories Bread Givers and "Soap and Water", Yezierska had the same goals and accomplishments and came from a similar background: going to college, becoming a teacher, working in the laundry business and being raised in poverty. Although the stories resemble Yezierska's life, they are not, according to her daughter, completely accountable. According to Henriksen's "A Writers Life", he claims Yezierska's daughter warns against the accuracy of her mother's writing. "Although most of her writing was autobiographical, she was incapable of telling the plain truth" (Ebest 1).


Bread Givers and "Soap and Water" display a perspective that the majority culture is clean and that the minority culture is "dirty". In both pieces of Yezierska's work the two characters (Sarah and the narrator) have in common that they come from poor upbringings, from what they feel and what their encounters feel as dirty. Both of the girls work their way through college doing similar work. The girls both work with laundry: cleaning and ironing clothes. The working in the laundry business is parallel to their lives. The girls are working hard to clean up their lives and in a way are getting the "dirt and wrinkles" (of their lives) out. The same that the girls are cleaning their lives up they are cleaning and ironing the clothes. Cleaning their lives and the cleaning of the clothes take hard work and severe effort; however, the results are extremely rewarding. The job is rewarding, in that it provides money and with the education knowledge is gained. A job and an education require perseverance, which will make one a stronger person to function effectively in the professional world. Similar to the two characters, Anzia Yezierska worked as a seamstress...

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