Literature Study GuidesBread GiversBook 2 Chapter 13 Summary

Bread Givers | Study Guide

Anzia Yezierska

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Bread Givers | Book 2, Chapter 13 : Between Two Worlds (Outcast) | Summary



Feeling increasingly isolated, Sara Smolinsky wants to be accepted into the circle of laundresses at her work who all seem friendly with one another. She tries to be accepted by them, but they make fun of her and insinuate that she lives in a room alone because she has a man. Sara is left out of any activities the girls plan. The students and teachers at school think she is a show-off and don't speak to her either. Sara looks in the mirror and sees a grey, "stone face." Hoping to add a little color and youth to herself, Sara buys some makeup and a lace collar for her blouse, but the girls at work make fun of her for it. As a result, Sara works harder at her studies and tries to ignore everything except getting into college.


Sara looks in the mirror and sees a similar thing happening to her that she has noticed happen to her mother and sisters. Their faces became tired and aged from overwork and neglect, as well as disappointment in love. Sara sees herself as dressing like "an old maid" and having a grey, colorless face. To this point she has given little thought to her looks, despite the fact that she is already 23 years old. She realizes this and tries to do something to look younger and more like the girls she works with. But this, like her attempts to clean up her room or eat good meals, proves to be something else she must set aside in order to focus on her studies. Sara's loneliness comes through acutely in this chapter, and it also becomes clear that Sara has never had any friends outside her family members. She doesn't know how to interact with or relate to other girls, partially because of a lack of experience and partially because of her driven personality. In each circle she moves in, Sara finds herself an outsider. First she becomes an outsider to her family, whose norms she refuses to conform to. Later, she feels like an outsider both in her classes and among the other girls at the laundry. With each realization of her isolation, and lack of solidarity from those around her, Sara increases her determination to make something of herself.

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