Analysis Of Bread Givers

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Bread Givers is a novel about a Russian Jewish immigrant family living in a tenement on Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1920s. The novel is told from the perspective of Sara Smolinsky, the youngest daughter of Reb and Shenah Smolinsy, and her three older sisters, Bessie, Fania, and Mashah and focuses on the family’s struggle to survive and assimilate in America. The novel also examines the concept of hegemonic masculinity as Reb Smolinsky uses Jewish scripture to justify his subservient treatment of his wife and daughters. The bread giver according to the novel is a man who provides for his family; however Reb relies on his daughters to find employment so that he is free to study to Torah. As the book progresses we learn about the family’s …show more content…
The law primarily focused on restricting immigration from Southern and Eastern European countries. People from these countries were looked upon as undesirable, mostly due to lack of understanding of their cultures and their impoverished living conditions. The vast number of immigrants lived in squalor in the cities of New York. The new wave of Jewish immigrants during this period also had cultural conflicts with the Americanized Jewish community that came before them, primarily from Germany. The struggle for immigrants to assimilate and become part of the American culture is one of the primary themes in Bread …show more content…
Many of the women expected nothing more than to move from her father’s home to her husband’s and become a housewife. Many of the marriages were arranged to continue or promote social status and a dowry is presented to the man proposing marriage.

After World War 1, the practice of arranged marriages was becoming less customary among American Jews. Young men and women were exercising their right to select their own mates. The custom of chaperoning was replaced with group activities involving both genders, and a dowry was no longer a requirement as an acceptance of a marriage proposal. However, some practices of traditional courtship still existed within the immigrant community.
In Bread Givers, Reb involvement in his oldest daughters’ relationships ultimately led to their unhappiness. Sara saw her sisters’ dreams of finding love and marry the men of their choosing dissipate as the hand of their father, who only sought to arrange marriages that would provide him with some financial benefit. Sara witnessed the unhappiness of her sisters and mother – then decided that he would not make marriage decisions for her. Reb Smolinsky still made an attempt at an arranged marriage for Sara, which she rejected and ultimately was disowned by her

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