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"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 religious man who collects his daughter's wages and commands her and the rest of the family about under the ruling of the Holy Torah. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Dr. Flint is a slaveholder and owns Linda who is a black slave on his plantation. Dr. Flint is the tormenter and burden in Linda's life for all of her early years. Linda and Sara live under the ruling of these men until neither can take it any longer. Both girls eventually escape, through many struggles, to start their own life and leave their past behind.Reb Smolinsky and Dr. Flint closely relate when it comes to the topic of work and attitude. Both put their underlings to work while they do what they want with their sufficient free time. Reb Smolinsky does not work but instead lives his life studying the Torah and memorizing every aspect of it while his daughters work full time and bring home all of their wages to him, keeping nothing for themselves. His wife waits on him hand and foot while he gets the first choice for every meal set on the table. At one point in the story when they came into some money, Sarah mentions, "Now all of us had meat for the Sabbath- not only father. And sometimes Mother had a half chicken for Father" (Yezierska 29). This shows that the father almost always had either a larger portion of meat or the only portion, never feeling bad for the rest of the family. When they moved to America, Reb made his wife and children carry his Holy books "instead of taking along feather beds, and the samovar, and the brass pots and pans like other people"(Yezierska 8). He only thought of himself and what he wanted for his daughters and wife.Reb Smolinsky's cold, selfish attitude and undesirable personality can also be seen in Dr. Flint. Dr. Flint also had his slaves waiting on him hand and foot while he got to eat whatever he wanted and tells them to do whatever it was he wanted them to do. He realizes the extent of his authority and uses it constantly as to remind Linda of the absence of her freedom and the extent of his tyranny. At one point, Dr. Flint says to Linda, "Never look to me for help. You are my slave, and shall always be my slave. I will never sell you, that you may depend upon." (Jacobs 60). Here he is making his authority and her inferiority clear to put her hopes down and raise his pride up.Even though Reb Smolinsky and Dr. Flint have similar ways of treating Sara and Linda, the basis of their treatments have different sources. Dr. Flint does not study readings of the Torah or of any religion for that...

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