The Nagging Mother Stereotype

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Seminar Instructor: Maria Laura - Iuliana, II
Dana Mihailescu American Studies Department
“Ethno-Racial Identity Configuration in American Literature and Culture.
Cross-Cultural Encounters” Seminar

The Jewish Nagging Mother Stereotype in Delmore Schwartz` “America! America!”

The Jewish nagging
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Baumann.” (Schwartz 21) Everything has to be in accordance with her expectations and her beliefs, thus she makes her daughter in law quit her prosperous job because as determined by the Jewish tradition the man is the one supposed to sustain and provide for the family. The problem is that her son is not able to hold any job that would sustain a family. “She insisted that it must end before the marriage took place, since it was not only intolerable that a wife should make her own living, should go to work each day, but it was wrong that the wife should earn more money than the husband.” (Schwartz 19)
Arranged marriages become, as stated above, a way through which she exerts her power onto her children. Even Martha`s marriage is somehow related to her mother`s will as she ends up marring a doctor, a Jewish mother`s dream. “Mrs. Baumann tirelessly praised her son-in-law, and marveled infinitely at his magnanimity in marrying a girl who was unable to have children. She took especial pride in his being a very good doctor, a fact which impressed the women of her acquaintance because they wished most of all for sons or sons-in-law who were doctors.” (Schwartz 24) “In its origins, a joke about the Jewish mother boasting about her “son, the doctor,” drew on the enormous pride of the Old World mother that her Americanized son had achieved the immigrant’s dream of success.” (Antler 3) Thus, having a son or a
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