Analysis Between Old World and New World Gender Roles

Better Essays
Throughout American history, women, have been discriminated against and did not receive the same political as well as social rights as men since America was heavily a patriarchal society. Although women were still not on the same level of power as men in America, when women began to actually make social and political advancements in the early 20th century, their newfound liberty exceeded the independence that women of Old World cultures received and this if evident in the book Breadgivers Anna Yezierska. In the early half of the 20th century, a women's role in America was not only controlled by the society, but it was also profoundly defined by her culture. In Breadgivers, the daughter of Jewish immigrants must battle with assimilating to American values that encourage her to be more independent while her traditionally Jewish father tries to control her life in just about every aspect. The book clearly exhibits the results of when a woman assimilates to the American lifestyle as opposed to the women that accepts her more subservient role that other non-American cultures promoted.

Yezierska introduces the ideals of restricted women that gained her ideals from a traditional Old World culture. The mother of the family in Bread Givers was already molded by the conventional Jewish role of a woman which was to remain below the man of the household. The mother once told the father "I'm only a sinful woman" and later touched his hand as if the father was earth's ruler . This shows how the women that had not been raised in American society and had never been educated about the rights of women can accept being only a substructure in society. Also, immediately after the mother's comment about "only being a sinful women," Yez...

... middle of paper ...

... the women's newfound liberation of 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 in the sadness or happiness of ones life. Bread Givers truly illustrates two of the most important American values which are equality and individuality which can be defining point of someone's quality of life.

Works Cited

Anzia Yezierska, BREAD GIVERS (New York: Persia Books, 1999)

Alan Brinkley, AMERICAN HISTORY: A SURVEY v II, Eleventh Edition(Boston : McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Get Access