The correct date of the birth of Anzia Yezierka is not know but it was in between 1880 or 1885 in a village in Poland. Her father being a Talmudic scholar could not earn therefore the family was living on the money her mother was earning by selling peddling goods and also from the neighbors contribution that were thrilled they way the entire family was being run without her father earning anything. THE NOVEL BREAD GIVERS Her story Bread Givers is based upon the life of a 10 year old American Jewish female who is doing stuff beyond her age.
This story is about Sara Smolinksky. She lives with her father Reb Smolinsky, her mother Shenah Smolinsky and her three sister Mashah, Bessie and Fania in a East side apartment in New York. The story opens with the mentioning of the family who are very poor with five women who are besieged for cash just to survive and the man of the house Reb Smolinsky is only concerned with studying the sacred text of Jews. The family is about to starve. Sara’s elder sisters Fania, Bessie and Mashah are jobless and Mashah spends what money she has on herself just to make her beautiful.
The man of the house Reb Smolinsky sits at home all day long, just reading the holy books of Jews and confiscating whatever money his daughters bring home, and this is his duty as a father. When Sara’s mother Shenah Smolinsky shows hopelessness over the entire condition, the youngest daughter Sara goes to the outside world to make some money for the family by selling herring. Than later her elders sisters also find some jobs and Shenah (their mother) gives the second room on rent which somewhat enhances the financial position of the family.
Well behaved and quite Bessie soon starts to love a young man name Berel Berenstein. She asks him to come home for dinner. The entire family is happy for Bessie other than her very own father, who thinks that he won’t be able to survive as Bessie was bringing the most money. Berel wants to get married to Bessie with nothing in return but her father says that Berel should give money for the whole wedding and also set him a business. This offer is refused by Berel and he goes out of the house. Later he asks Bessie to leave her father and marry him; this offer is rejected by Bessie.
Berel gets engaged to another girl, which crushes Bessie’s heart. The next daughter to find love is Mashah. Her love is also believed to be inappropriate by her father. Her love is from a rich family who is a piano player by the name of Jacob Novak. Reb Smolinsky totally disapproved and somehow blackmails Jacob so that he may stay away from Mashah for numerous days thus breaking her heart. Later Jacob asks for pardon which Mashah does not give him and asks her father to kick him out of the house. Fania’s lover is also disapproved by her father who happens to be a poet who is poor.
His name is Morris Lipkin. Morris is shown the door by Fania’s father again. Reb Smolinsky than finds his own suitors for his three daughter which makes them all sad. The youngest daughter Sara watches all of this and is very angry at her father because what he has done to her elder sisters, but because of she being a girl and her tender age leaves her helpless. Reb Smolinsky spends almost his entire life ready the Torah and other Holy Jewish books. He is living in his own world where there is only religion, a place which is highly unsuited with what the rest of his family are living.
His entire day and night are mainly concerned on the assurance of heaven and contributing generous assistance to other people, which makes him not to realize that on Earth, a man needs to assure that his family are being fed before the strangers. When on a holy work, men seem to be kind and good and also they value the significance of the study, he tries to explain this knowledge to the outside world where sometime people do not even care what your reason is for not giving them anything and try to deceive you through any means. The thing which is most damaging not only to him but also the outside world is he being extremely knowledgeable.
He takes this the wrong way and thinks that the outside world is as knowledgeable as he is and at times makes some rather silly decision without consulting his wife who is more sensible. After his decisions thought to be badly made, he does not accept it and makes the decision to be more shameful rather than admitting that he was wrong about it. In Spite of the numerous warnings by Mrs. Smolinsky, her husband Reb takes all the money which he had gotten from Bessie’s marriage and invests into a grocery store which the last owner had fake stock kept all over. He is double crossed. Mrs.
Smolinsky and Sara must again act quickly to survive and each day they get more anger from Reb. A day comes when Sara loses it and runs away and decides that she wants to become a teacher. She decides to stay with her sister Mashah or Bessie but because of a bad marriage and being too poor she does not. She gets her own private room which is dirty and small. She finds a job in a laundry shop to pay for the room and her nights are used up in either taking classes or studying. The main motivating force in the life of Sara is to find her own description of light that she sees glowing from her father.
When she was a child she desired for anything that would motivate her, like the poetry of Morris Lipkin did sometimes. She dreamt of becoming a teacher when she was just a teen, so that all of the eyes are focused on her like they are on her father when he is preaching. She manages to find books which motivate her day after day. She later gives up Max Goldstein as because of him she would have left her education, she calms herself by saying that this sacrifice by her is like the rejection of the world’s success by her father to better study the Torah.
When she gets to know that what is meant by inner light, the first thing that comes in her mind that this she would like to share with her father, thinking that he is the one who will understand what she is thinking. She decides that she wants to gain knowledge more than anything else in the world and she gives her entire time and force to obtain that knowledge like her father does when he is studying his books. In her mission to find internal light, Sara is perfects her logic of fury at the unfairness by many people.
Even though she has no sort of man backing, still she is tough to be angry at a restaurant cook who gives her a less amount of meat only due to the fact that she is a woman. She is also angry at Jacob and Berel for breaking her sister’s heart and her hate for her father starts when she sees that he is denying them a life of their own. This fighting of injustice is what makes Sara and her father to reunite again and this is motivated by the promise of her mother to take care of her father when she is lying on her death bed.
When she sees the way his new wife is treating her father, she decided to live with her father under the same house. The light of her father seems to be finishing but only Sara knows that it is vital that it should be lit. The path that Sara chooses is not easy. She faces favoritism for being a woman and also because she is living alone, her fellow employees shuns her, her mother wants her to come back, her elder sisters who are unhappy with their life want Sara to find herself a husband.
Sara is very lonely and when she meets a friend of Fania, whose name is Max Goldstein, she thinks of getting married to him but later refuses as she comes to know that Max is not interested in her but her possessions. When her father hears about this, he is so angry at Sara that he quickly says that Sara is no longer his daughter. For Sara another fight is her College besides the loneliness and poverty she faces, but Sara wants to live a good, clean and a beautiful life like the people who are around her.
She later graduates and finds a job at a New York school. She gets a good salary and with that she buys better clothes, rents a bigger and better apartment. But this ends quickly as she gets to know that her mother is sick. Even though her mother is on the sick bed, her father married another women Mrs. Feinstein who is a widow living upstairs. She is a cruel woman who decides to take money from her new stepchildren. All of the Reb’s four daughters decide to stop talking to their father. Due to her unanticipated poverty, Mrs.
Feinstein writes a letter to the principal of the School where Sara is working. The principal, Hugo Seelig after reading the letter becomes more close to Sara and their friendship turns into love after they get to know that they share the same cultural heritage. This relationship helps Sara to get rid of her loneliness and after finding her happiness she decides to go back to her father, Hugo agrees with her and the novel ends with Hugo and Sara inviting Reb Smolinsky to live with them, thus making Sara’s life a happy one. Conclusion:
This novel by Anzia Yezierska is based on fiction; the story of the Jewish family of the Smolinsky’s is quite the same which in reality was faces by many Jews who traveled from the Eastern part of Europe. This story tells how did Sara a young girl to struggle and than gained what she always wanted to gain. This novel tells that good knowledge is essential. It is important that you look after your family besides doing religious preaching. This story tells us that if your strong from the inside than you can overcome anything in this world. Conclusion • Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers Publisher: Persea Books; New Ed edition (May 1
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