Clashing of Wills
Conflict between generations is a common them to many novels. In the novel"Bread Givers", by Anzia Yezierksa, the clashing of wills of two generations is one major theme. We see clashes through culture, generations, community, religion,generations, and many others. The most prominent clash of wills is that of the protagonist Sara with her father Moisha or Reb Smolinsky. Some may say that these two characters clash because of their differences. Others might say that it their similarities that cause the clash between them both. It seems that it is a combination of their similarities and their differences that cause their clash and, in ...view middle of the document...
The rent collector for the landlord comes to the apartment to collect rent, but Reb does not have the money. The two argue and Reb finally hits the collector, who is Jewish, and
shouts, "I’ll teach you respect for the Holy Torah" (p. 18). Reb is then taken off to jail for assault. Then Sara decides since none of her sisters are bringing in enough money, that she would go out and make some. She buys a some fish for twenty five cents and then hit the street to sell them for double what she paid. We see by this that Reb has an iron will when in comes to his religion and the Torah, while Sara has a will to make herself a better and successful person. He strives for religious perfection while Sara strives
for personal perfection.
Sara follows the orders of her father until she reaches her breaking point in the unsuccessful business he buys. Sara walks out on her mother and father, leaving behind all connections to her old life. This is her chance to start out in the world to attain her goal. This is a difficult thing for a girl to do in that time and place. She would face many bumps on her road, the greatest being resisting the old world that her family is bound to. While her sisters question her actions, they praise her for getting away from their father. Her sister Bessies says, "Thank God you had the courage to break away" (p 142). Bessie is praising her for not letting her father marry her off as he did her and his other two daughters.
A long time after leaving the home Reb goes to visit Sara in her small apartment. The sight of her father is something she had longed for so she was happy to see him. She thought he would understand her because, as she says, "He had given up worldly success to drink the wisdom of the Torah" (p. 202). When in fact he came to chastise her for not
accepting a marriage proposal. He feels this is her only chance to live a holy life and get into heaven. After her continued refusal and argument with her father Reb responds with, "I disown you. I curse you. May your name and your memory be blotted out of this earth" (p. 208). Sara had hoped for recognition, and even identification with her sacrifice while her father came only to shun her sacrifice. Her lifestyle, although much like his, was against his religious beliefs.
This is a point were we see how the similarities between the two is what is breaking them apart. Sara says to her father, "All my selfishness is from you" (p. 206). Just like her father, Sara had given up her life to attain success through an education, but it is the education of her father that divides them. Reb sacrificed and educated himself in the Torah that tells him that a women is to be in the home. Sara is also sacrificing but, to her father, her sacrifice in sacrilege to their religion.
Sara has an overwhelming will to educate herself in order to make herself a...