The Great Depression and the Life of Italian-Immigrant Workers

2797 Words Apr 23rd, 2011 12 Pages
The Great Depression and the Life of Italian-Immigrant Workers

Commentary: In order to develop ideas for this paper, I first analyzed the time of the Depression and what Italian Immigrants lives were like typically living in America. Using this background knowledge, I was able to analyze the lifestyles of the working class in each of the stories. Even though the background story of each of the family’s lives differed, they all had a common basis in that they were Italian Immigrant families working a hard lifestyle in order to support the family during economic hardship. I revised this paper by looking to see if my ideas were clearly expressed. I ran into an obstacle of trying to figure out which ideas to express, since the novels
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Cooking and baking is a central quality of this family’s lifestyle. The narrative goes into great detail and this has to do with a cultural placement. For Giovanni’s family, cooking and eating is a set of cultural rituals and the making of an experience. It is a part of a performance art, not just a consumption product. Another central quality of this family’s lifestyle is essentially work. Puma writes: ‘With Johnny’s help, father and son would finish up by eleven instead of after midnight for the father alone. The next morning Johnny would still be sleepy, and his mother would tickle his toes until he climbed out of bed for breakfast with his sister and brother. By then his father would already be on the subway headed again for the pastry shop Downtown’ (From the Margins 86).
This shows that Giovanni’s life centers around work. Giovanni spends most of his time working about six days a week. He is doing this in order to support his family. In another scene when Johnny is making dough, he sees bugs in the flour, and Giovanni also accidentally knocks cigarette ashes into the flour. Giovanni shrugs it off as if it is no big deal. Giovanni is exhausted and he is simply being realistic and just wants to get work done. Puma shows Giovanni’s hard lifestyle when he writes: ‘The physical work, the heat from the ovens…the long hours for little pay in those times when most other Sicilians too didn’t earn enough to buy many cakes---when almost
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