Bread Givers | Study Guide

Anzia Yezierska

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Bread Givers | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Sara's early childhood

    The Smolinskys can't pay rent, and Reb Smolinsky is taken to court for hitting the landlady.

    Book 1, Chapter 1
  • A few weeks later

    Reb Smolinsky is let off by the judge and returns to Hester Street a hero.

    Book 1, Chapter 2
  • Some months later

    Bessie brings home Berel Berenstein as a suitor and her father rejects him.

    Book 1, Chapter 3
  • Some time later

    Mashah falls in love with pianist Jacob Novak but his father and her father disapprove.

    Book 1, Chapter 4
  • A year or two later

    Fania receives a letter from her beau but is instead pushed into marrying wealthy Abe Schmukler.

    Book 1, Chapter 5
  • Around the same time

    Mashah agrees to marry diamond-seller Moe Mirsky at her father's insistence.

    Book 1, Chapter 5
  • A year or so later

    Bessie is sold off to Zalmon the fish peddler by her father for $500.

    Book 1, Chapter 6
  • Shortly afterward

    Reb Smolinsky buys a supermarket in New Jersey but is swindled by the previous owner.

    Book 1, Chapter 7
  • Days later

    Sara finally has enough of her father's tyranny and leaves her family for New York.

    Book 1, Chapter 8
  • The next dayl

    Sara tries to stay with her sisters, but their husbands throw her out.

    Book 1, Chapter 9
  • That same day

    Sara finds a tiny, dirty room to rent, gets a job at a laundry, and registers for night school.

    Book 2, Chapter 10
  • Weeks later

    Sara is relieved when her mother visits with food and a blanket.

    Book 2, Chapter 11
  • Some months later

    Sara's sisters visit and try to convince her to get married.

    Book 2, Chapter 12
  • Some months later

    Max Goldstein visits Sara and courts her, but she eventually rejects him.

    Book 2, Chapter 14
  • Some time later

    Sara's father visits and disowns her for rejecting Max.

    Book 2, Chapter 15
  • Some time later

    Sara completes school and starts college in a small town, where she struggles to adjust.

    Book 2, Chapter 16
  • Four years later

    Sara graduates from college and wins $1,000 in an essay contest.

    Book 2, Chapter 16
  • A few days later

    Sara returns to New York and finds her mother on her deathbed.

    Book 3, Chapter 18
  • Months later

    Sara begins to date Hugo Seelig.

    Book 3, Chapter 20
  • Some time later

    Sara and Hugo invite Sara's father to live with them.

    Book 3, Chapter 21

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Book 1, Chapter 1 In the first chapter the protagonist and narrator, Sara Smolinsky, is 10 years old. The family is completely reliant on ... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 2 Sara Smolinsky recounts her father's trial for assaulting the landlady. The judge lets him go because the lawyer makes a... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 3 Though everyone had hoped one of the boarders might make a good match for Bessie Smolinsky, they all moon after Mashah S... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 4 Mashah Smolinsky becomes interested in a young pianist named Jacob Novak, and she starts paying more attention to what i... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 5 Fania Smolinsky receives a letter from a poet and writer named Morris Lipkin. Her family opens it and gives her a hard t... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 6 Sara Smolinsky begins working in a paper box factory, where she is paid by the piece. She makes better money than many o... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 7 Reb Smolinsky decides to start a business with the $500 he got from Zalmon the fish peddler in exchange for Bessie Smoli... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 8 Sara Smolinsky's mother bargains and borrows to stock the empty store and try to make their situation work, but no custo... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 9 Not knowing where else to go upon her return to New York, Sara Smolinsky heads straight for Zalmon and Bessie's fish sho... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 10 Sara Smolinsky has a moment of inspiration remembering a story about a factory girl who goes to college and becomes a te... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 11 Sara Smolinsky sits down to make herself a budget for her weekly earnings. She realizes that she has barely enough left ... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 12 Sara Smolinsky realizes that eating her small meals alone is worse than sharing with her family. As she stirs a pot of o... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 13 Feeling increasingly isolated, Sara Smolinsky wants to be accepted into the circle of laundresses at her work who all se... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 14 Sara Smolinsky receives a failing grade in geometry and a letter from Fania in the same day. Fania writes that the man s... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 15 Sara suddenly misses her father, thinking that he would understand her rejection of Max Goldstein. As she remembers his ... Read More
Book 2, Chapter 16 Sara Smolinsky packs up her things and heads for college. She arrives in a small town to find a completely different env... Read More
Book 3, Chapter 17 With a college degree and $1,000 in her pocket, Sara Smolinsky returns to New York. She is able to take a Pullman train ... Read More
Book 3, Chapter 18 Sara Smolinsky prepares to go home for the first time in six years. Her parents have moved back to Hester Street, and sh... Read More
Book 3, Chapter 19 Feeling sad that she didn't give mother more time and understanding while she was alive, Sara Smolinsky makes an effort ... Read More
Book 3, Chapter 20 Sara Smolinsky begins teaching and the glamor begins to wear off. She realizes that like most things in life, being a sc... Read More
Book 3, Chapter 21 Despite the joy Sara Smolinsky feels in her new life, she also experiences guilt at being unable to share her happiness ... Read More
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