Baylor College Medical School

Literature Selection from Call It Sleep by Henry Roth



Starts on page 7 through 14.


Can you please describe the trip to America that Mrs. Schearl took.

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Mrs. Schearl?


Can you check the spelling of this name. Page nine starts the Preface in the link you sent me. My search shows no evidence of a Mrs. Schearl.

The woman is Jewish, her daughter born in Hamburg. Thus, she is a German Jew. Her crossing would have been rough, as she had to travel with her child in steerage, the area in the ship intended for shipping cargo and was located between decks. The area would have been crowded and cramped, very uncomfortable for traveling such a long way. The ceilings in the steerage area were only 6-8 feet high, with rows of wooden plank bunks. Mattresses were made from straw.... lice and fleas were a huge problem.

The trip is not described in this passage. I constructed the above information based on the fact that we do know she and the child traveled in steerage. I believe your assignment was to make inferences based upon the text.


I did check the spelling, but can't find Mrs. Schearl mentioned any where in this article. But, I did some research and this novel tells the story of David Schearl, an immigrant boy who comes to the United States in the early 1900s and grows up in the dark, crowded tenements of New York.

Maybe this should be the question instead; What happens when David and his mother first arrive at Ellis Island?

Hope this information helps. So I assume we need to find out what happens when David and his mother first arrives at Ellis Island, then we can write a brief description of her trip to America.

David and his mother arrived at Ellis Island, where they had to wait in longs lines for clearance. Unfortunately, the father couldn't find the mother right away, as he was told she wasn't aboard the ship. He went back and forth four times looking for his wife and son. The wife was told if no one arrived to pick them up, they wouldn't be allowed to leave. When her husband finally found them, she didn't recognize him..... then they gave contradictory answers about questions relating to their son. All in all, it was a fiasco..... the poor woman had to go to a new home with a very angry man.

Thanks Jill!

You're welcome!