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The shine of her pots and pans had taken the lustre out of her hair. And the soda with which she had scrubbed the floor so clean, and laundered her rags to white, had burned in and eaten the beauty out of her hands. Often the language of the novel is awkward with unusual word choices — reading like a work in translation. It was hard for me to understand if this was intentional as a way to demonstrate the stilted English of an immigrant or unintentional, but the end result was a novel that felt unedited or in draft form.

A review of Bread Givers would not be complete without an examination of one of the central characters. He preaches that material gain on earth will make Heaven unattainable, yet he clings to his daughters for the money they bring in to support him and ruins his family with a bad business deal which he sees as a get rich quick scheme. Sell my religion for money? Become a false prophet to the Americanized Jews!

SparkNotes: Bread Givers: Plot Overview

My religion is not for sale. I only want to go into business so as to keep sacred my religion. I want to get into some quick money-making thing that will not take up too many hours a day, so I could get most of my time for learning. His views of women are steeped in tradition and rigidly held. When it comes to his daughters, he does not consider their happiness, but instead looks at what they can offer him. Heaven and the next world were only for men.


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Women could get into Heaven because they were wives and daughters of men. When Sara flees her horrible home life and strikes out on her own, she learns something about sacrifice to achieve her goals. She also begins to appreciate the traits in her father which she now sees in herself. I had it from Father, this ingrained something in me that would not let me take the mess of pottage. Brought up in abject poverty as a Polish immigrant, she fled her family at age seventeen to make a life for herself. In Bread Givers , perhaps her most autobiographical work, she explores the themes of her own childhood and young adulthood.

Bread Givers is a simple and familiar story of rags to riches. This is not a book which blew me away with its writing in fact, the writing is, in many ways, flawed , but I do think it offers a glimpse into the immigrant experience in America. My biggest complaint is that the characters are stereotypical: the father is too evil, the mother too downtrodden and sacrificing, the sisters too compliant to the old world traditions, the heroine too successful at finding her happiness.

Despite this, I do think Bread Givers will appeal to some readers who are interested in immigration and feminist issues during the early part of the twentieth century as it provides a backdrop to a larger discussion. LibraryThing member snapplechick. Her family is poverty stricken and she has had to work every day since she was 9 or Her father refuses to work because he says his job is to study the Torah.

As she grows up, her three older sisters are forced to reject the men they love and marry to disgusting, ltying, men their ftaher has picked for them. Sara overcomes all of the examples that shes lived through and lives out her dream of becoming a teacher.

Bread Givers: A Novel 3rd Edition

This book had a great story that took you on a roller coaster. You feel angry at the father, then pity, then happiness, then suspense, then joy, then sadness, and then love. The book is really great if you have to do an assignment on because it has so much to relate to and an easy plot to follow. Anyone can apreciate this story. LibraryThing member suesbooks. I read this book a second time for a book group. The first time I loved it, but this time I was displeased with the cartoonish portrayal of characters in the first section. I did think the rest of the book was valuable, and it provided much insight in to the lives of immigrants in the early 20th century.

LibraryThing member Ruthe Interesting portrait of an Orthodox rabbi as he marries offf his daughters to men they don't love. Only Sara, the youngest daughter is able to resist. Set during the 19 20's on the Lower East Side, it is the story of Sara's struggle towards independence. LibraryThing member SummerLester. Bread Givers is a novel about 4 young immigrant sisters and their family. The story tells of their struggle particularly one sister who doesn't conform to the way her strict Jewish father thinks she should.

I enjoyed this book for an odd reason, I don't like history. This book was required during my history course this semester. Reading this while studying the same era made history come alive for me. In the classroom I would use this book in a study of history, late 19th century to early 20th century. It would also be a great resourse when studying the struggle women have had in history.

LibraryThing member jentifer. This is a work of fiction, but it is heavily based on the life of Anzia Yezierska and her immigrant family's struggles in the Lower East Side. This is an interesting piece of work as both literature, and a sociological and historical text. LibraryThing member MarysLibrary. This gripping novel of the American Jewish immigrant experience was first published in Written from the point of view of an increasingly Americanized daughter it tells the story of a father who, as he sees his daughters betginning to break from the traditions of life in the old country, becomes a tyrant.

The narrator leaves home to study nights while working in laundries. She eventually goes to college and becomes a teacher, but she realizes that she has been able to achieve this because of what she learned from her father. LibraryThing member Bookish LibraryThing member Clancy. Very powerful book giving a great insight into the hardships women have faced in history, and how the family unit itself can be one of the main forces hindering the progress of women's rights.

Reb Smilonsky. You might go mad at him that you might feel like engaging him in a debate over religion and life. So there are times that I put this book down for a moment gnashing my teeth as though I can no longer stand listening to a character, a byword for hypocrisy, megalomania, and grandeur delusion. Another highlight of the book is the grammar structures of the sentences.

I cringe at the sentences, but they convey substantial tones and emotions. I am predisposed to anger, annoyance, and empathy, so I am no bothered at them at all. Every scene tends to carry me away. Bread Givers is not the only one I have read dealing with immigrant life in America. All of these books bear the same concept: American dream. No wonder reading just the likes of them have a significance impact upon readers like me.

View all 4 comments. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Literature Help 21: "Bread Givers" Plot Summary

This is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. I really enjoyed her writing style.

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I felt connected to her characters and love the plot. I can totally relate to this story. Her dilemma to choose college over marriage. It was heartbreaking seeing the daughters marry and struggle and become controlled by their abusive husbands. Her overbearing father cracks me up but also annoys and irritates me. I found joy in watching her make her way through college and then find the love of her life. W This is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. What a joy to read.

Anzia Yezierska’s “Bread Givers:” A Lens on the Beehive of the Lower East Side

I will treasure this book always. Mar 20, Juan rated it it was amazing. This book was assigned reading as part of a course on immigration policy within the US. The professor recommended it highly and told the class that it was a good read and that we would all find ourselves absorbed in the book once we got into it. Truth was spoken.

Bread Givers is the story of Russian Jew immigrant Sara Smolinsky and her desire and struggle to achieve the pinnacle of what it means to be an American; the opportunity to invest one's self in individual pursuits.