Essay on Generational Differences in Yezierska’s Bread Givers

Essay on Generational Differences in Yezierska’s Bread Givers

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Generational Differences in Yezierska’s Bread Givers  


    Anzia Yezierska’s most-taught novel, Bread Givers, "is an extensive observation of relationships in an immigrant family of early 20th century America" (Sample 1). Noticeably, one of the most fascinating qualities of Yezierska’s work is that, though most readers probably come from significantly different backgrounds than that of her characters, she writes in a manner that allows her stories to be discussed in contemporary terms, (Drucker 1) while simultaneously illustrating the immigrant experience. Particularly, this phenomenon can be seen in her portrayal of certain generational conflicts. In Bread Givers, Yezierska depicts the struggle of finding one’s self in life, a notion that all readers are familiar with. Yet, throughout the novel she reveals how this struggle is different for immigrants, as it is complicated by the fact that they must "fight their own wars in finding their place between the Old World from which they have come, and the New World in which they are struggling to survive"

(Sample 1). Perhaps the most intriguing relationship in this novel is that of Reb Smolinsky and his youngest daughter, Sara, as it serves to reveal this generational conflict through tensions over assimilation, such as their perspectives on the American Dream and individualization, and also through their varying expectations in life.

Though most immigrant texts do not tell the whole story of the immigrant experience, generally, every immigrant text discusses one or more of the stages in the immigrant narrative. Yezierska’s novel, Bread Givers, is centered around stage four of the immigrant narrative. This stage is concerned with assimilation to the dominant American c...


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...ll. 1998.

He, Qiang Shan. "Chinese-American Literature." New Immigrant Literatures in the United States: A Sourcebook to Our Multicultural Literary Heritage. Ed. Alpana Sharma Knippling. WEstport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996. 44-65.

Krupnick, Mark.. "Jewish-American Literature." New Immigrant Literatures in the United States: A Sourcebook to Our Multicultural Literary Heritage. Ed. Alpana Sharma Knippling. WEstport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996. 295-308.

Pilcer, Sonia. "2G." Visions of America Personal Narratives from the Promised Land. Ed. Wesley Brown and Amy Ling. 4th ed. New York: Peresea Books, 1993. 201-206.

Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers. New York: Persea Books, 1999.

---. "Soap and Water." Imagining America Stories from the Promised Land. Ed. Wesley Brown and Amy Ling. 8th ed. New York: Peresea Books, 1991. 105-110.

 

 

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