Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

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Call It Sleep by Henry Roth The book Call It Sleep written by Henry Roth is a literary work that explores immigrant life as they adjust to the new and unfamiliar ways of American life. The book is somewhat of a social commentary on the period of the Eastern European immigration to America at its peak. The novel gives an inside view on how foreigners (primarily Jewish immigrants) fit into main stream society. Throughout the course of the novel, you travel along with the main character David Schearl as he ages from six to eight and grows up in Brownsville on the lower East side of New York. David is torn between the love of his over protective mother and the hatred of his angry and mentally disturbed father in a quest to make sense of his life in contrast with all of the other immigrant children that he comes in contact with. All of the adventures that David encounters and all of the people that he comes in contact with are simply the author’s way of depicting an immigrants inner struggle and dealing with the pressures of life as seen through the eyes of a remarkably perceptive and imaginative child. The opening scenes are set in New York harbor in 1907 at a time when the inflow of foreigners is at its peak. A woman and her small child come off of the boat to reunite with her husband that had gone before them to the new world to start a better life than they were used to in their old country. The author has you experience what it is like to come into New York Harbor and see the city skyline and the lights; and also to experience the feeling of hope and promise for a brighter future for the immigrants. However when Albert Schearl shows up late and uncaring to greet a wife and son who don’t recognize him right away, it is hinted to the reader that trouble is in store for the Schearl family. The father Albert Schearl is introduced as a very haughty and proud individual that believes that he should abandon all signs of his former upbringing and conform to the American ways of life. He is a printer by trade however he cannot hold down a job long enough due to his violent and uncontrollable temperament. He thinks that people are constantly watching his every move therefore he cannot give
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