The New World Anzia Yezierska Analysis

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3. Anzia Yezierska contrasts the ideals of the New World and the Old World through the characters of Reb and Sara Smolinsky. Reb, a holy man set in his rigid ways, is a true embodiment of the Old World values. He followed the belief that men were the only people that counted with God, and therefore women had to serve the men to their satisfaction in order to gain admittance into Heaven. His belief was that a wife should be someone “who can cook for him, and wash for him, and carry the burden of his house for him” (Yezierska 64). To Reb, if a woman was not subservient they were just a pretty face and therefore trouble. The Old World education for women was learning domestic duties, not learning the trades or in preparation for a career. A man’s…show more content…
Although she abides by her father’s rules for many years, she is eventually pushed to her limit and abandons the only life she’s ever known in order to make something of herself. The main ideal of the New World that she embraces is a break with the past and becoming her own person. She is tired of being oppressed by men and decides to be the pioneer of her family and seek her own identity. It is impossible for the two worlds to coincide, because it is impossible to impose Old World values in the New World, they are juxtapositions. Sara expresses this inability to coexist when she says “Thank God, I’m not living in the olden times. Thank God, I’m living in America! You made the lives of the other children! I’m going to make my own life!” (Yezierska 137-138). Berel Bernstein even tries to explain this to Reb, telling him “in America they got no use for the Torah learning. In America everybody got to earn a living first.” (Yezierska 48). She asserts her resolve by refusing to marry Max who would be able to provide for her just so that she would not be an old maid. She also refuses to share her boarding with another tenant, because she knows that she deserves a room of her own. Her other stances occur when she refuses to become a lowly factory hand, and at her mother’s funeral when she won’t rip her nice suit. Having always been dominated by patriarchal control, she refuses to allow the social or religious traditions that her father, and subsequently the Old World, require of

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