Essay on Doomed Relationships in the Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska

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Doomed Relationships in the Bread Givers

The Bread Givers, written by Anzia Yezierska, revolves around a starving lower east side family whose daughter rebels against her fathers’ strict conception of the role of a Jewish woman. The major theme of this novel is doomed relationships. There are several of these that are thoroughly analyzed in the novel. These include the relationship between Rabbi Smolinksy and the females in his family as well as those in his society, between him and his son-in-laws, between the Smolinsky daughters and their husbands, between the Smolinsky daughters and their heritage, between Rabbi Smolinksy and his heritage, and lastly, between the old and the new. The following will concentrate on three of latter
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Of the doomed relationship between the females and Rabbi Smolinksy, there is one female that stands out. This is the rocky relationship between Rabbi Smolinsky and his youngest daughter Sara. Sara, from a young age, was independent. This independence was illustrated at the time when her family was destitute and starving. On her own initiative, Sara ran out into the street to sell herring in order to bring a couple of dollars home to her family. There is a conflict in Saras’ independence. On one hand, her independence is useful in that it allowed her to assist with the family finances. On the other hand, Rabbi Smolinsky is opposed to her independence because of the fear that she will leave the house, as well as the family values, all together. Rabbi Smolinsky needs Sara at home indefinitely, or at least to marry into a wealthy family, who will then support him. This is not Saras ambition. Due to their clash in values, Sara reaches her breaking point and runs off to become the independent soul she is. “My will is as strong as yours,” she replies. “Nobody can stop me. I’m not from the old country. I’m American!” Sara then rediscovers her independence through education, employment, and love. The last doomed relationship in the novel, is the relationship between Rabbi Smolinsky’s daughters and their husbands. Relationships require a stable foundation in which to grow. If that foundation is weak at

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