Bread Givers

Sara Smolinsky's Journey to Fulfillment

Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers is the story of Sara Smolinksy, a young Jewish girl, growing up in New York City in the early twentieth century. Even as a young girl, Sara rejects the Orthodox Jewish teachings of her father, a rabbi. She refuses to accept the Torah's idea that without a man, a woman is "less than nothing" (205). Instead, she embraces American culture. "In America, women don't need men to boss them" (137). She sets out to find her own life. She sees how the lives of her mother and sisters are dominated by her father and does not want that for herself. "Thank God, I'm not living in olden times. Thank God, I'm living in America! You made the lives of the other children! I'm going to make my own life!" (138). Sara views success as the attainment of individuality through hard work. This is her vision of the American Dream. It contrasts sharply with her father's traditional beliefs and his desire to be wealthy without working. Still, once Sara does achieve her professional goal, she realizes that without family and love, she is unfulfilled. She discovers that personal success does not necessarily mean happiness and contentment, but is a critical part of...

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