Bread Givers is written by AnziaYezierska. This book demonstrates how a girl prevent to follow her sisters’ steps and choose her own way of living. The narrator of this book is Sara Smolinsky. She is a ten year’s old little girl who always worried for the house as a mother. She is such a sweet and strong minded girl. Sara’s family is extremely poor and if Sara’s sisters don’t find a job, the whole family will be kicked out of the house for not paying rent. Sara has three sisters; Bessie is the oldest, then Mashah and Fania, and none of them has a job.
Sara’s mother, Shena, is a traditional housewife who thinks women can only be wife and mom, no women get to learn knowledge and their whole life will rely on a man. Her traditional minds affect her daughters sometimes. Reb, Sara’s father, he studies religion all the time and only care about his bible and beliefs. He does not have a job and does not take the responsibility for his entire family even though he is the only man in the house. The whole family was hanging on Bessie’s neck for her salaries since she is the oldest girl.
Everyday all the girls except for Sara needs to go out and try to find a job because the family has no income if there is nobody in the house has a job. Mashah kept buying herself some fancy stuff like soap and towel which is a big waste of money. Later on, the tax collectors came into the house and ask for the rent that the Smolinsky has been arrear for a while. Reb slapped the tax collector for thrown his bible on the floor, and surely Reb got into jail. As the plot going, Bessie fell in love with a guy named Berel Bernstein who is a cutter in the shop where Bessie works.
As soon as Reb came back home, he started question Berel about religious belief and Reb embarrassed Berel. Reb didn’t agree with the marriage simply because Bessie earns him the biggest wages. Reb and Berel kept arguing for a while because Reb asked Berel to pay for the wedding and buy outfit for himself. Finally, Berel found out the only thing Reb cares about is money. Berel rushed to the door and slammed himself out. The next day, Berel talked to Bessie if she wants to marry him without her father’s allowance. Bessie’s answer is no because she couldn’t leave her father, he needs her.
Weeks later, Berel announces his engagement with another girl which made Bessie extremely upset. For Mashah, she fell in love with Jacob Novak who is a piano player. Jacob’s family is so rich that his father did not want Mashah to marry his son. Jacob listened to his father and left Mashah. Later on, Jacob felt regret and wanted to date Mashah again but Reb intervened because it happened once and there will be the second time and he pushed Jacob out of the apartment. In chapter five, Reb got a letter from Morris Lipkin saying he wanted to marry Fania.
Obviously Reb refused Morris’ quest simply because Morris is poor. Later, Reb brought a guy Moe and introduced Moe to his family in front of Morris but ignored Morris. Morris took offense at it and walked away without return. Few weeks later, Reb brought a cloak dealer named Abe Schmukler and he asked Fania to marry him. Both Mashah and Fania got married that day. It seemed like both of the girls married a rich guy. Reb became well known for his deed that he found two excellent husbands for both of his daughters. However, Mashah and Fania soon discovered both of their husbands are liars.
Moe and Abe aren’t rich at all. Later in the book, a fish –peddler named Zalmon married Bessie because he gave promises to give Reb a few hundred dollars to set Reb in business. Till now, all three of Reb’s daughters were married and none of them have a happy marriage. In the very end of chapter 8, Reb got mad at Sara for two cents. A girl didn’t have all twelve cents to buy a pound of rice, instead, she had ten. Sara trusted the little girl that she will bring two cents back so Sara sold the rice for ten cents and that made Reb exceedingly angry.
Finally Sara couldn’t stand it anymore and she decided to leave home by herself. At first, Sara went to Bessie’s house and willing to live with them. As soon as Sara got there, Bessie told her she is too poor to help Sara. Then Sara went to see Mashah. However, Sara found out Mashah’s life isn’t as well as everybody thought of. Mashah’s house is spotless and Moe treated Mashah very poor. Later on, Sara made a plan which changed her life forever. Sara decided to go to night school with a goal of earning a teacher’s certificate. Then Sara rent a room and found a job as an ironer.
Except for sleeping, Sara spent ten hours at work, two hours at school and another two hours to study on her own. Sara is barely eating enough and she is starving. For a few days Sara was hungry, and she burned a shirt due to can’t focus her mind during the day. She had to pay a couple of dollars to make up her mistake which put her finance into a worse situation. Sara worked hard both at school and at work so that there was no spare time for her to visit home. Later on, Sara met Max who is Fania’s husband Abe’s business partner.
Max fell in love with Sara but she would rather stay out of this relationship. However, Sara’s father Reb, suddenly came to Sara’s apartment and checked with her whether she refused to marry Max. Reb tried his best to preach Sara in order to make get married with Max. Again, Sara rejected Reb’s persuasion. In chapter 16, Sara got into a college and soon she figured out college life is way harder than she thought of. Sara had a great desire to learn and she rent a room next to her professor which made her have to pay more for the rent since the room is nicer and bigger than the one she used to rent.
The professors’ were all interested in Sara’s story about her life in Hester Street which is a good thing to Sara, because, as an exchange, the professors taught Sara more knowledge. Time flies by, Sara smoothly graduated from college and she got her certificate as a teacher. Her goal was achieved and she is now on her way to visit home since she had been away from home for over six years. Everything around Sara seemed so lovely and Sara was filled with new hope. However, after Sara returned home, she found her mom; Shenah was desperately ill and refused to go see the doctor.
Later on, Shenah dead due to illness and her only wish to Sara was to take good care of her husband, Reb. Sara soon visited Reb, for her mother Shenah willing her to take care of Reb. As soon as Shenah dead, Reb started wearing his nice clothes and married his neighbor Mrs. Feinstein later on. However, Reb soon realized that her new wife only cares about his money and she had been waiting for him to die so that she can take all of his money away. Reb felt sad and willing to leave her. Later, Sara got to meet Hugo Seelig, the principal.
Sara repected him and she soon became friend with Hugo. They begin walk home together every day and their relationship was a step further. A few months passed by, Sara ran into a guy who was selling gum and surprisingly Sara recognized that old man was her father. Sara realized Reb was sick and she began take care of him every day after school. The good thing is, Reb was getting better and better each day. Then, Sara brought Hugo home to her father, and it seemed like they got along well with each other. Hugo said that Reb must come live with them.