The following is an excerpt from Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, a book that tells the story of a Jewish immigrant family, the Smolinsky’s, in the slums of New York trying to survive in a new country



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The following is an excerpt from Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, a book that tells the story of a Jewish immigrant family, the Smolinsky’s, in the slums of New York trying to survive in a new country.
When we came to America, instead of taking along feather beds, and the samovar, and the brass pots and pans, like other people, Father made us carry his books. When Mother begged only to take along her pot for gefulte fish, and the two feather beds that were handed down to her from her grandmother for her wedding presents, Father wouldn't let her.
"Woman"" Father said, laughing into her eyes. "What for will you need old feather beds? Don't you know it's always summer in America? And in the new golden country, where milk and honey flows free in the streets, you'll have new golden dishes to cook in, and not weigh yourself down with your old pots and pans. But my books, my holy books always were, and always will be, the light of the world. You'll see yet how all America will come to my feet to learn."
No one was allowed to put their things in Father's room, any more than they were allowed to use Mashah's hanger.
Of course, we all knew that if God had given Mother a son, Father would have permitted a man child to share with him his best room in the house. A boy could say prayers after his father's death— that kept the father's soul alive forever. Always Father was throwing up to Mother that she had borne him no son to be an honour to his days and to say prayers for him when he died.
The prayers of his daughters didn't count because God didn't listen to women. Heaven and the next world were only for men. Women could get into Heaven because they were wives and daughters of men. Women had no brains for the study of God's Torah, but they could be the servants of men who studied the Torah. Only if they cooked for the men, and washed for the men, and didn't nag or curse the men out of their homes; only if they let the men study the Torah in peace, then, maybe, they could push themselves into Heaven with the men to wait on them there.

And so, since men were the only people who counted with God, Father not only had the best room for himself, for his study and prayers, but also the best eating of the house. The fat from the soup and the top from the milk went always to him.



Complete the following based on the above reading:


  1. Describe what the Smolinsky family expected America to be like when they arrived.


  1. Does this family assimilate or accommodate American culture? Explain



  1. What problems do you predict this family will encounter in America?


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