Bread Givers

Bread Givers: The Limits of the American Dream College

For many immigrants, coming to America was an opportunity to leave their home country in hopes of finding a better life in a new land. In this vein, Anna Yezierska writes about the struggles of an immigrant Jewish family living in New York’s Lower East Side during the 1920’s in her novel Bread Givers. The Smolinsky family had high hopes, as the father says: ”Don’t you know it’s always summer in America? And in the new golden country, where milk and honey flow free in the streets, you’ll have new golden dishes to cook in, and not weigh yourself down with your old pots and pans" (Yezierska 9). Unfortunately, this golden life was not what most immigrants came to when they arrived in the “New” world. Yezierska expresses the specific struggle of an early 20th-century immigrant family in America, while at the same time showing more broadly how it is important to adapt to new cultures and environments in order to ensure success.

The story marks a complete revolution. The father Reb, a Rabbi, comes to America to bring his Holy Torah to the New World. He attempts to live within the style of the “old life,” studying his holy scripture while the burden of supporting the struggling family falls upon his wife, Shena, and their daughters. As...

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