Bread Givers

Unexpected Blessings: Reb's Positive Influence on Sara 11th Grade

In 1925, American author Anzia Yezierska wrote the book Bread Givers. The story follows a poor immigrant family living in the lower east side of 1920’s New York. Throughout the novel, the family’s four daughters are treated merely as wage-earners by a father (Reb Smolinsky) who refuses to work, spending his days studying the Holy Torah and driving away his daughters’ lovers. He is commonly seen as the antagonist of the novel, and yet without his tyrannical influence, Sara, the youngest daughter and protagonist of the story, would not have been able to succeed and find happiness in America the way that she did. Reb’s unquestionable love of books influenced Sara greatly as she discovered her own interest in reading, which allowed her to successfully become a teacher later in life. Sara mirrors Reb’s best characteristic, his unfailing devotion to his passion--religion; Sara follows in his footsteps, becoming similarly bound to her own passion--education. Reb also surrounded Sara with so much conflict at home, she became used to it, and standing up for herself amidst conflict became one of her greatest skills during adulthood. Finally, Reb single-handedly created a family environment so toxic it drove Sara away from home. A father...

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