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The Struggle For Independence In A New World

1178 words - 5 pages

The Struggle for Independence in a New World

In Anzia Yezierska's novel Bread Givers, we learn about a struggle between Sara Smolinsky and her father. Her father, an Orthodox rabbi, is stuck in the traditions of the old world and will not tolerate Sara's longing for independence. This novel takes place in New York's Lower East Side, where the population mainly consists of Jewish immigrants who have come to America in hopes of living a better life than they lived in the shtetls. In America, for the family's who still lived by the traditions of the old world, life for the women was no different that life in the shtetls.
Sara and her family had immigrated to America from a village in ...view middle of the document...

Her only choice was to serve her father until she was married, and then continue her life serving her husband. But she wanted more. This was America, where women were allowed to choose how they wanted to live, and were allowed to marry for love, not just marry who their father told them they must marry.
Sara's inner struggle continued in trying to understand why her father was so harsh on her sisters. Sara's father successfully married off all of her sisters, but not to men whom they loved. All of the men her sisters brought home who they were in love with were quickly turned away by their father. Reb wanted a wealthy husband for his daughters, so that his daughters would continue to support him and bring wages to the family. Sara did not like the way her sister's lives were dictated and controlled. She thought that they should be able to choose whom they wanted to marry, and not be forced to marry whom their father chose for them. Sara was disappointed to see her sisters give in to their father's harshness, but they were stuck in believing what their father preached to them, that "It says in the Torah, only through a man can a woman enter Heaven."
Sara could no longer stand the harsh treatment from her father. She had to have something in her life to look forward to, not a life long sentence of service to her father and her future husband. She wanted freedom. She wanted independence. She did not want to live the rest of her life in a room with a dirt floor and no privacy. After a heated argument with her father, Sara left her mother and father to begin a life on her own. She began her struggle for independence. She wanted to become a schoolteacher. In her first day away from home, when she stopped to eat a meal, she made the comment "This was the first time I ate by myself, with silence and stillness for my company." From this statement we know how life was for her up until now. Her whole family lived in one room, crowded with no privacy, but Sara was determined to change all of that. She attended night school and worked as an ironer at a laundry shop. She went through many hard times, struggling to try to...

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