Bread Givers Essay, Research Paper
During the twentieth century immigrants both men and women had difficulty adjusting to the New World. In my essay I’m going to point out how difficult it was for men and for women to understand each other after their transition to a new life. The men wanted to carry their beliefs with them while the women were trying to adjust their selves to the New World.
During this time women had to struggle with the work in the house. They had to take care of the children, maintain the household, cook for the husband and in top of all couldn’t get an education. Women who were willing to break out of these patterns in a way violated the expectations of their own immigrant community, and if they were Americans they change the dependent role for American women. According to the belief of men in the book especially Reb Smolinsky “Only through a man has a women existance, Only through a men can a women enter Heaven” (Pg.9). Because of this many women were married to men chosen by their families. So at the time a woman’s virtue was to make sure her husband is free of worries and to protect him in order to enter heaven. When the young girls were growing up they had to take care of their little brothers and sisters while the mom cooks. The boys spent their days in religious instructions while the girls went to school to learn as little as possible. In the book the worst struggle was for Bessie the oldest daughter in the family. She spent her days looking for jobs and when she finally had one her father Reb used to take her wages. Bessie was stuck with the image of the Jewish ritual. She didn’t do any attempt in Americanizing herself and to change so that her father doesn’t take advantage of her. At the time her sisters were younger and not to much pressure was put to them by the father. Sara was the youngest, eventhough she didn’t work she had to listen to her father’s ignorant comments about womanhood. But Sara was the only one in the family who denies living like the rest of the women in this time. She was more of the new world “America”, and seeks for a better life by Americanizing herself. She left her home and went on her own to college. Like a dream was the whole night’s journey. And like a dream mounting on a dream was this college town, this New America of culture and education(pg.210). Sara was doing what was seen as wrong for an immigrant girl to do try to Americanize herself and leave her rituals aside.
In Bread Givers men, in particular Sara’s father, is obsessed with the idea of male superiority. Reb Smolinsky emphasizes how women are nothing without men. He says his responsibility is to read the Torah. He ignores the fact that his daughter Bessie is the only one covering the cost of the house and doesn’t do anything but reads his religious books. “The girls have been out of work, said father (pg.17). This was the response he gave the landlady when she went to pick up the rent. Reb is also ambitious he wants to marry off his daughters to wealthy men regardless of the fact if they were in love or not. He did what most men in this time did they married their girls without consent. If love came after it was okay if not the women would have to have one baby after the other. On the other hand most men during this time immigrant or American thought differently then Reb. Men believed that their wife should stay home and take of the children while Reb’s believed that his daughters should take of him if they wanted to go to heaven.
Eventhough I understand that the reason men are so possessive and demanding is because of the way they were brought up. I think that women shouldn’t have to suffer by obeying all the men’s regulations. Why should women stay home and cook for them if what most of these immigrant men are doing is reading the Torah. Why can’t they work together and sent their children to school. Immigrant women have to Americanize themselves. They are more liberal and they have to learn to take self-decisions instead of abiding by the men’s rules. At the same time the women should sit down with their husbands to try to make them see they’re in America and this is the New World and the old one no longer exist.
In Conclusion, I believe that in 1925 when the book was published there was not an effective plea for women’s rights. During this time women were pretty much liberal. They began to drink, smoke cigarettes and wear more provocative clothing. They were not so concern on their rights since by this time they had accomplished the right to vote. But eventhough women had all these accomplishments they were holding themselves back by attaching themselves to their husbands. I mean eventhuogh they now have the right to vote they follow their husband’s steps and vote for whom their husbands vote instead of making their own decisions. I believe that the cause of why women took so long to have full freedom was because they were use to depending too much on their husbands.