Bread Givers Essay

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Charles Meyers HIS Section 012 September 15, 2011 Many believe the man on the household should bring home the “bacon”. Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska is a novel that protests that exact though. This book portrays a young girl named Sara who is raised into a Jewish immigrant family in New York City during the early 1900s. Sara Smolinky learns quickly that gender roles as people suspect are not always true. Bread Givers complicates our concept of a man’s responsibility for his family. Sara’s household was unlike many normal families. Sara has three sisters; Besse, Mashah, and Fania. All three of them are out of work in the beginning of the novel while their father doesn’t even look for a job. Their father, Reb Smolinsky, stays at home reading religious books to his family and controls their income. Sara, at a young age, actually sells herring to provide the family with some income. Finally, Sara’s three sisters get jobs that provide the family with financial support. Sara’s mother, Shena Smolinksy, also rents out the other room in the house to collect more income. All during this time, Reb, does nothing more than preach and watch over the money. Later in the story Bessie and Meshah both find romance. Reb quickly disapproves of both relationships because he knows he will not be able to survive with the lost wages. Reb Smolinsky’s actions highly clash with the ideas of a “bread winner” we usually associate with the male of a household. In this family, there are many “bread givers”. Sara becomes the first bread giver when she supports the family with the selling of fish. Her mother then also helps when she rents out the apartment. The three main bread givers for the Smolinsky family are Sara’s three oldest sisters. But that changes when Reb arranges the three of their marriages and to whom they will marry. Reb then loses what money he received from Bessie’s
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