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Literature Study GuidesBread GiversBook 2 Chapter 10 Summary

Bread Givers | Study Guide

Anzia Yezierska

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Bread Givers | Book 2, Chapter 10 : Between Two Worlds (I Shut the Door) | Summary



Sara Smolinsky has a moment of inspiration remembering a story about a factory girl who goes to college and becomes a teacher. Sara decides that this is the road for her too, and she starts looking for a room to rent. Unexpectedly, she has a difficult time because no one wants to rent a room to a girl. She finally finds a dark little hole of a room and convinces the landlady to rent it to her, sidestepping the question of her employment. The next day Sara goes looking for a job and gets one at a laundry. After working the rest of the day she heads to a cafeteria for working girls and has her supper, and then heads to the night school office to register for classes. When she wakes up the next morning, she realizes what a dirty place she has rented and starts trying to clean it up. This makes her late to make her coffee and breakfast, so she decides that she will just have to learn to ignore the dirt if she wants to make it through school. When she returns home that evening to try to study, she forces herself to shut out the noise around her and focus.


In Chapter 10 Sara "shuts the door" to many things in order to persevere with her chosen path. She manages to find a room to herself and so is able to literally shut the door and have privacy for her life and her studies. She also figuratively shuts the door on everything besides work and her studies, which reveals the real strength of her will and determination. She lives in a dirty hovel of a room, surrounded by noisy neighbors and tenants, and though she longs for a clean light room and quiet she is able to shut out the dirt and noise in order to get through her studies. This same willpower helps her get a job at a laundry when the proprietor thinks she is too little and weak to do the work. He notes that she's "got guts" and gives her the job. In the course of this chapter, Sara manages to establish a life for herself in New York, earning her own bread and studying for her future despite her exhaustion and other difficulties. Chapter 10 illuminates the lengths to which Sara is willing to go in order to be free of poverty and to support herself. Her drive and persistence seem unquenchable and dominant in a world that crushed all the rest of her family. She shows she is very much stronger than they have been, and the movement of the book picks up speed as she steps out on her own.

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