Most critics agree that Bread Givers is a coming-of age story. However, Nicholas Coles explains how it fits into the genre of working-class literature as well. While some scholars believe the ending of the novel represents Sara's success in American culture (Evelyn Gross-Avery, Melanie Levinson), other scholars believe the ending explores the notion that Sara can not escape her Jewish heritage (Steven J. Belluscio, Renny Christopher, Gay Wilentz).
Many of the above critics view the novel as autobiographical because of its parallels to the facts of Yezierska's life. But Carol Schoen notes the discrepancies and describes Yezierska as an unreliable narrator about her own history.