Literature Study GuidesBread GiversBook 3 Chapter 19 Summary

Bread Givers | Study Guide

Anzia Yezierska

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Bread Givers | Book 3, Chapter 19 : The New World (Lodge Money) | Summary

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Summary

Feeling sad that she didn't give mother more time and understanding while she was alive, Sara Smolinsky makes an effort to go visit her father every day after school. But Reb Smolinsky does not stay in mourning for long, and it is soon clear he is courting Mrs. Feinstein, the widowed neighbor. One day, Sara arrives to find that they have already married. Repulsed, Sara goes to tell Bessie Smolinsky the news, and they are so distraught that none of the sisters visit their father for months. Then Sara receives a letter from her new stepmother while at school, begging her to come to their house. Sara arrives and finds that the widow has spent all of the lodge money (insurance from Shenah's death) and wants more. A huge fight erupts between the reb and his new wife, and Sara leaves to go consult her sisters. None of them want to give the reb's new wife a dime, insulted that their father married so soon after their mother's death, and to such a selfish woman.

Analysis

Reb Smolinsky, true to his character and his traditional ways, immediately goes about securing someone to take care of him after Shenah's death. Sara, also true to her character, realizes what she has missed in the years without her family and tries to be a good daughter by visiting her father every day. This begins her attempts to reconcile her new life and desires with the old ways of her father and family. These visits prove to be not enough for Reb Smolinsky, who marries Mrs. Feinstein quickly after his wife dies. Reb Smolinsky is clearly thinking primarily of his own comfort, but in a twist of situational irony, his selfish marriage turns out to be an albatross around his neck. In the same way he was unable to judge the true character of his daughters' husbands, he does not think about what kind of woman he is marrying, only that he must have someone to take care of him. Mrs. Feinstein seems to be thinking along the same lines, and they soon discover what a mistake they have both made. In an instance of situational irony, Reb Smolinsky gets what he has dished out to all the women in his family and can only loudly lament his suffering.

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