Anzia Yezierska () was a Jewish American novelist known for her writing Download PDF From the other end of the earth from where I came, America was a land of living hope, woven of dreams, aflame with longing and desire. Throughout “America and I,” the narrator's attitude toward America evolves Anzia Yezierska (–) was an American novelist born in Poland. '' America. ANZIA YEZIERSKA. ❖. THE LOST even the President from America to his home and America, I want to make myself for an American. I could tear the stars.
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University of Tulsa Anzia Yezierska, Immigrant Authority, and the Uses of Affect "America" is part of the immigrant's vision and as such is, at least in part, her. Answer the following questions in complete sentences. 1. After reading the first seven paragraphs, summarize the narrator's initial expectations of her new life in. View Homework Help - cepcosojurre.gq from ENGLISH enc at Flagler-palm Coast High School. America and I by Anzia Yezierska Deeper.
My whole life hangs on how I'll look in his eyes. I got to have a hat and a new dress. I can't no more wear my 'greenhorn' shawl going out with an American. Oi weh! How bitter it is not to have the dollar!
Woe is me! No mother, no friend, nobody to help me lift myself out of my greenhorn rags. Have you no heart? No feelings? Pawn the only one thing left from your dead mother? Nothing is too dear for him. If your mother could stand up from her grave, she'd cut herself in pieces, she'd tear the sun and stars out from the sky to make you beautiful for him. Laying her sacrifice down on the counter, she stood dumbly and nervously fingering the fringes of her shawl.
The pawnbroker lifted his miserly face from the cash-box and shot a quick glance at the girl's trembling figure. His appraising hand felt that it was of the finest down. A lump came in her throat and she wavered speechless. Her hands rushed back anxiously to the feather bed and her fingers clung to it as if it were a living thing.
She gazed panic-stricken at the gloomy interior of the pawnshop with its tawdry jewels in the cases; the stacks of second-hand clothing hanging overhead, back to the grisly face of the pawnbroker. The weird tickings that came from the cheap clocks on the shelves behind Zaretsky, seemed to her like the smothered heart-beats of people who like herself had been driven to barter their last precious belongings for a few dollars.
This morgue of dead belongings had taken its toll of many a pitiful victim of want. But never before had Zaretsky been so affected. People bargained and rebelled and struggled with him on his own plane. But the dumb helplessness of this girl and her coming to him at such a late hour touched the man's heart.
The new note of feeling in his voice made her look up. The hard, crafty expression on his face had given place to a look of sympathy.
How many winters it took my mother to pick together the feathers. She began it when I was yet a little baby in the cradle — and — " She covered her face with her shawl and sobbed. Why do you got to pawn it? How could she explain and how could he possibly understand her sudden savage desire for clothes? Zaretsky, feeling that he had been clumsy and tactless, hastened to add, "Nu — I'll give you — a — a — a — ten dollars," he finished with a motion of his hand, as if driving from him the onrush of generosity that seized him.
God will pay you for this goodness. The following evening, as soon as her work was over, Shenah Pessah scurried through the ghetto streets, seeking in the myriad-colored shop windows the one hat and the one dress that would voice the desire of her innermost self. At last she espied a shining straw with cherries so red, so luscious, that they cried out to her, "Bite me! The magic of those cherries on her hat brought back to her the green fields and orchards of her native Russia.
Yes, a green dress was what she craved. And she picked out the greenest, crispest organdie. That night, as she put on her beloved colors, she vainly tried to see herself from head to foot, but the broken bit of a mirror that she owned could only show her glorious parts of her. Her clothes seemed to enfold her in flames of desire leaping upon desire. Only to be beautiful! At last, through her basement window, she saw him walk up the front steps.
She longed to go over to him and fling herself at his feet and cry out to him with what hunger of heart she awaited his coming. But the very intensity of her longing left her faint and dumb. He passed to his room. Later, she saw him walk out without even stopping to look at her. The next day and the day after, she watched him from her hidden corner pass in and out of the house, but still he did not come to her.
Oh, how sweet it was to suffer the very hurt of his oblivion of her! She gloried in his great height that made him so utterly unaware of her existence. It was enough for her worshiping eyes just to glimpse him from afar.
What was she to him? Could she expect him to greet the stairs on which he stepped? Or take notice of the door that swung open for him? After all, she was nothing but part of the house. So why should he take notice of her? She was the steps on which he walked.
She was the door that swung open for him. And he did not know it.
Hungry hearts, by Anzia Yezierska
For four evenings in succession, ever since John Barnes had come to live in the house, Shenah Pessah arrayed herself in her new things and waited. Was it not a miracle that he came the first time when she did not even dream that he was on earth? So why should n't the miracle happen again? This evening, however, she was so spent with the hopelessness of her longing that she had no energy left to put on her adornments.
All at once she was startled out of her apathy by a quick tap on her window-pane. Thank you. The gaze haunted him and hurt him. It was the beseeching look of a homeless dog, begging to be noticed. How the deadness and emptiness in me flames up into life! The sun is beginning to shine! She swung open the door and stood in full readiness watching the little clock on the mantel-shelf. The ticking thing seemed to throb with the unutterable hopes compressed in her heart, all the mute years of her stifled life.
Each little thud of time sang a wild song of released joy — the joy of his coming nearer. For the tenth time Shenah Pessah went over in her mind what she would say to him when he'd come. I'll begin like this — Mr. I can't give it out in words your kindness, to stop from your high thoughts to — to — " "No — no! God from the world! Why should it be so hard for me to say to him what I mean?
Why should n't I be able to say to him plain out — Mr. You are an angel from the sky! You are saving me my life to let me only give a look on you! I'm happier than a bird in the air when I think only that such goodness like you — " The sudden ring of the bell shattered all her carefully rehearsed phrases and she met his greeting in a flutter of confusion. Haven't you blossomed out since last night!
Barnes, startled by Shenah Pessah's sudden display of color. This is my first American dress-up. So you want to be an American! The next step will be to take up some work that will bring you in touch with American people.
You'll help me? I'm crazy for people. I'm burning to learn. Give me only an advice. It's all the same what I do with the hands. Think you not maybe now, I could begin already something with the head? So beautiful, it comes on me like music! This is quite a place," he acquiesced, seeing again the public library in a new light through her eyes.
As Mr. Barnes filled out the application card, Shenah Pessah noted the librarian's simple attire. And the first shadow of a doubt crossed her mind as to whether her dearly bought apparel was pleasing to his eyes.
In the few brief words that passed between Mr. Barnes and the librarian, Shenah Pessah sensed that these two were of the same world and that she was different. Her first contact with him in a well-lighted room made her aware that "there were other things to the person besides the dress-up.
That is why she felt her dirty finger-nails curl in awkwardly to hide themselves as she held the pen to sign her name. When they were out in the street again, he turned to her and said, "If you don't mind, I'd prefer to walk back. The night is so fine and I've been in the stuffy office all day. If he only knew how above all else she wanted this walk.
In the street it is easier for me. The dark covers you up so good. Even her clothes that had seemed so bold and garish awhile ago, were now inexplicably in keeping with the carnival spirit that he felt steal over him. As they neared the pier, he reflected strangely upon the fact that out of the thousands of needy, immigrant girls whom he might have befriended, this eager young being at his side was ordained by some peculiar providence to come under his personal protection.
But that did n't count life. From now on I live. The pity of it! But now — it dances under me the whole earth!
It feels in me grander than dreams! For the moment, the girl beside him was the living flame of incarnate Spring. The tenderness of his sympathy enfolded her like some blessed warmth. When they reached the end of the pier, they paused and watched the moonlight playing on the water. In the shelter of a truck they felt benignly screened from any stray glances of the loiterers near by.
How big seemed his strength as he stood silhouetted against the blue night! For the first time Shenah Pessah noticed the splendid straightness of his shoulders.
The clean glowing youth of him drew her like a spell. Only to keep always inside my heart the kindness, the gentlemanness that shines from his face," thought Shenah Pessah, instinctively nestling closer.
It was three days since the eventful evening on the pier and Shenah Pessah had not seen John Barnes since. He had vanished like a dream, and yet he was not a dream. He was the only real thing in the unreal emptiness of her unlived life. She closed her eyes and she saw again his face with its joy-giving smile.
She heard again his voice and felt again his arms around her as he kissed her lips. Then in the midst of her sweetest visioning a gnawing emptiness seized her and the cruel ache of withheld love sucked dry all those beautiful feelings his presence inspired.
Sometimes there flashed across her fevered senses the memory of his compassionate endearments: "Poor lonely little immigrant!
She went about her work with restlessness. At each step, at each sound, she started, "Maybe it's him! The only lull to the storm that uprooted her being was in trying to tell him how every throb within her clamored for him, but the most heart-piercing cry that she could utter only stabbed her heart with the futility of words.
In the course of the week it was Shenah Pessah's duty to clean Mrs. Stein's floor. This brought her to Mr. Barnes's den in his absence. She gazed about her, calling up his presence at the sight of his belongings. With a timid hand she picked up a slipper that stood beside his bed and she pressed it to her heart reverently. You lucky brush — smoothing his hair every day!
Her whole being lit up with the joy of his coming. But one glance at him revealed to her the changed expression that darkened his face. His arms hung limply at his side — the arms she expected to stretch out to her and enfold her. As if struck in the face by his heartless rebuff, she rushed out blindly. That night — it was a passing moment of forgetfulness. It's not to happen again — " Before he had finished, she had run out scorched with shame by his words.
I suppose there is no use trying to explain to her. Then, springing to his feet, he threw his things together in a valise. She felt a faintness stunning her senses, as though some one had cut open the arteries of her wrists and all the blood rushed out of her body. Why did he make bitter to me the little sweetness that was dearer to me than my life? What means he a gentleman? It is because I'm not a lady alike to him?
Is a gentleman only a make-believe man? If it takes a year, or a million years, you got to show him you're a person. From now on, you got why to live. You got to work not with the strength of one body and one brain, but with the strength of a million bodies and a million brains. By day and by night, you got to push, push yourself up till you get to him and can look him in his face eye to eye.
Little by little the darkness cleared from her soul and a wistful serenity crept over her. She raised her face toward the solitary ray of sunlight that stole into her basement room. You owe it to him the deepest, the highest he waked up in you. He opened the wings of your soul.
How the deadness in me flames up with life at the thought of him! She closed her eyes that she might see more vividly the beloved features. The glowing smile that healed all ills of life and changed her from the weary drudge into the vibrant creature of joy. It was all a miracle — his coming, this young professor from one of the big colleges. He had rented a room in the very house where she was janitress so as to be near the people he was writing about. But more wonderful than all was the way he stopped to talk to her, to question her about herself as though she were his equal.
What warm friendliness had prompted him to take her out of her dark basement to the library where there were books to read! And then — that unforgettable night on the way home, when the air was poignant with spring! Only a moment — a kiss — a pressure of hands! And the world shone with light — the empty, unlived years filled with love!
She was lost in dreams of her one hour of romance when a woman elbowed her way through the dim passage, leaving behind her the smell of herring and onions. Shenah Pessah gripped the scrubbing-brush with suppressed fury. Did you not swear to yourself that you would tear his memory out from your heart? If he would have been only a man I could have forgotten him. But he was not a man! He was God Himself! On whatever I look shines his face! The brush dropped from her hand. He is the life in me — the hope in me — the breath of prayer in me!
If not for him in me, then what am I? Deadness — emptiness — nothingness! You are going out of your head. You are living only on rainbows. He is no more real — "What is real? These rags I wear? This pail? This black hole? Or him and the dreams of him? A black year on you! It was the voice of her uncle, Moisheh Rifkin. Worms should eat you!
Anzia Yezierska and the Experience of the Assimilated Jew
How long does it take you to wash up the stairs? Only his pleasure in eating and going to the synagogue. How long will he live yet? She flushed with conscious guilt. Again she wondered why ugly things and ugly smells so sickened her. You're only dreaming in the air. Get yourself somebody else! That's your thanks for saving you from hunger. Money yet, you want?
The minute you get enough to eat you turn up your head with freshness. Are you used to anything from home? What were you out there in Savel? The dirt under people's feet. You're already forgetting how you came off from the ship — a bundle of rags full of holes. If you lived in Russia a hundred years would you have lived to wear a pair of new shoes on your feet?
Everybody gets wages in America — " "Americanerin! Did n't I spend out enough money on your ship-ticket to have a little use from you? A thunder should strike you! Her broken finger-nails pierced the callous flesh of her hands.
So this was the end — the awakening of her dreams of America! Her memory went back to the time her ship-ticket came.
In her simple faith she had really believed that they wanted her — her father's brother and his wife who had come to the new world before ever she was born. She thought they wanted to give her a chance for happiness, for life and love. And then she came — to find the paralytic aunt — housework — janitor's drudgery.
Even after her aunt's death, she had gone on uncomplainingly, till her uncle's nagging had worn down her last shred of self-control. Bitter is me! For what is my life? Why did n't the ship go under and drown me before I came to America? Who needs me? Who wants me? I got nobody — nobody! His beautiful kindness that had once warmed her into new life breathed over her again.
From the sign she looked to her own hands — vigorous, young hands — made strong through toil. Hope leaped within her. God from the sky! I'm so burning to live — to work myself up for a somebody! And why not? Why is America but to give me the chance to lift up my head with everybody alike? But when she reached the huge, iron door of Cohen Brothers, a terror seized her. They'll give a look on my greenhorn rags, and down I go — For what are you afraid, you fool? They need hands. Don't the sign say so?
And you got good, strong hands that can turn over the earth with their strength. America is before you. You'll begin to earn money. You'll dress yourself up like a person and men will fall on their knees to make love to you — even him — himself! She flung open the door and beheld the wonder of a factory — people — people — seas of bent heads and busy hands of people — the whirr of machinery — flying belts — the clicking clatter of whirling wheels — all seemed to blend and fuse into one surging song of hope — of new life — a new world — America!
A man, his arms heaped with a bundle of shirts, paused at sight of the radiant face. Her ruddy cheeks, the film of innocence shining out of eyes that knew no guile, carried him back to the green fields and open plains of his native Russia.
The bundle slipped and fell to her feet. Their eyes met in spontaneous recognition of common race. With an embarrassed laugh they stooped to gather up the shirts.
She was so different from the others he had known in his five years in this country. He was seized with curiosity to know more. I'll take you to the office myself. Wait only till I put away these things. I hope you'll be pushed up soon to my floor," Sam Arkin encouraged, as he hurried back to his machine. Because of the rush of work and the scarcity of help, Shenah Pessah was hired without delay.
Atremble with excitement, she tiptoed after the foreman as he led the way into the workroom.
All these greenhorn hands tear the bread from our mouths by begging to work so cheap. As she watched her run her first seam, she marveled at her speed. Shenah Pessah lifted a beaming face. You good heart! I like to help anybody, so long it don't cost me nothing. I get paid by the week anyhow," she half apologized. Shenah Pessah was so thrilled with the novelty of the work, the excitement of mastering the intricacies of her machine, that she did not realize that the day was passed until the bell rang, the machines came to a halt, and the "hands" made a wild rush for the cloak-room.
Is it a fire? Loud laughter quelled her fears. It's six o'clock. Time to go home," chorused the voices. I got no home. Each jostling by her had a place to go. Of them all, she alone was friendless, shelterless! I ran away. A feeling of pity crept over her at sight of the outstretched, hungry hands. You must be starved for some eating. In silence she watched her companion prepare the hot dogs and potatoes on the oil-stove atop the trunk.
Such pressing sadness weighed upon her that she turned from even the smell of food.
America and I Summary & Study Guide Description
What'll he do — alone? You can go to shows — dances. And who knows — maybe meet a man to get married. You know how it burns in every girl to get herself married — that's how it burns in me to work myself up for a person. For what need you to work yourself up. Better marry yourself up to a rich feller and you're fixed for life. He is — " She paused seeking for words and a mist of longing softened the heavy peasant features.
I'm as far from him as the earth is from the stars.
Why wills itself in you the stars? Shenah Pessah flung out her hands with Jewish fervor. It always longs in me for the higher. Maybe he has long ago forgotten me, but only one hope drives in me like madness — to make myself alike to him.
I'll not go back to my uncle — till it rings with my name in America. How high she holds herself her head! Has the matchmaker promised her a man?
Shenah Pessah was raised above old hands who had been in the shop for years and made assistant to Sam Arkin, the man who had welcomed her that first day in the factory. As she was shown to the bench beside him, she waited expectantly for a word of welcome.
None came. Instead, he bent the closer to his machine and the hand that held the shirt trembled as though he were cold, though the hot color flooded his face. Resolutely, she turned to her work. She would show him how skillful she had become in those few weeks. The seams sped under her lightning touch when a sudden clatter startled her. She jumped up terror-stricken. The belt slipped! But it's nothing, little bird," Sam Arkin hastened to assure her. The foreman is coming! There was something she longed to say that trembled on her lips, but her voice refused to come.
Sam Arkin, too, was inarticulate. He felt he must talk to her, must know more of her. Timidly he touched her sleeve. A shrill whistle — the switch thrown — the slowing-down of the machines, then the deafening hush proclaiming noon.
Followed the scraping of chairs, raucous voices, laughter, and the rush on the line to reach the steaming cauldron. One by one, as their cups of tea were filled, the hungry workers dispersed into groups. Seated on window-sills, table-tops, machines, and bales of shirts, they munched black bread and herring and sipped tea from saucers.
And over all rioted the acrid odor of garlic and onions. Rebecca Feist, the belle of the shop, pulled up the sleeve of her Georgette waist and glanced down at her fifty-nine-cent silk stocking. Give only a look on Sam Arkin, how stuck he is on that new hand. We been in the shop so long and she just gives a come-in and grabs the cream as if it's coming to her.
These make-believe innocent girls! Leave it to them! They know how to shine themselves up to a feller! The little bit of luck! Not looks, not smartness, but only luck, and the world falls to your feet. It was a pretty, young face, but pale and thin from undernourishment.
Adroitly applying a lip-stick, she cried indignantly: "I wish I could be such a false thing like her. But only, I'm too natural — the hypocrite! He ain't marrying her yet, is he? Give her a finger and she'll grab your whole hand. Is there a limit to the pushings of such a green animal? Only a while ago, she was a learner, a nobody, and soon she'll jump over all our heads and make herself for a forelady.
When I give myself a look around on all the people laughing and talking, it makes me so happy I'm one of them. These Americanerins! Their heads is only on ice-cream soda and style. It's as if I just got out from the choking prison into the open air of my own people. Before, everything I done was alone, by myself. My heart hurt so with hunger for people. But here, in the factory, I feel I'm with everybody together. Just the sight of people lifts me on wings in the air. I want to know everything about yourself.
If only the doves from the sky were as beautiful! I used to tremble so to talk to a man, but you — you — I could talk myself out to you like thinking in myself. Under lowered lashes she smiled her consent. The noon hour was not yet over, but Shenah Pessah returned to her machine.
If I could only give out to some one about him in my heart — it would make me a little clear in the head. I only made a fool from myself trying to tell Sadie Kranz. She ran to the cloak-room and hid from prying eyes, behind the shawls and wraps. The emptiness of all for which she struggled pressed upon her like a dead weight, dragging her down, down — the reaction of her ecstasy. As the gong sounded, she made a desperate effort to pull herself together and returned to her work.
The six o'clock whistles still reverberated when Sam Arkin hurried down the factory stairs and out to the corner where he was to meet Shenah Pessah. He cleared his throat to greet her as she came, but all he managed was a bashful grin. She was so near, so real, and he had so much to say — if he only knew how to begin. He cracked his knuckles and bit his fingertips, but no words came.
You yok! Why ain't you saying something? The tense silence remained unbroken till they reached her house. My room is hardly big enough for a push-in of one person. She thought of her scant supper upstairs and would have responded eagerly, but glancing down at her clothes, she hesitated. I'll take you to the swellest restaurant on Grand Street and be proud with you! It's good to have a friend that knows himself on what's in you and not what's on you, but still, when I go to a place, I like to be dressed like a person so I can feel like a person.
Through streets growing black with swarming crowds of toil-released workers they made their way. Sam Arkin's thick hand rested with a lightness new to him upon the little arm tucked under his.
The hope for the better. People who got it good in the old world don't hunger for the new. I never had enough to eat. I never had shoes on my feet. I had to go barefoot even in the freezing winter.
But still I love it. I was born there. I love the houses and the straw roofs, the mud streets, the cows, the chickens and the goats. My heart always hurts me for what is no more. He laughed indulgently. What can make the mouth so water like the taste and the smell from herring and onions? It's as if my outside skin only was Russian; the heart in me is for everything of the new world — even the eating. I don't like the American eating, but I like the American dollar.
Look only on me! When I took my pencil — Oi weh! The sweat would break out on my face! I can sign checks, put money in the bank, or take it out without nobody to help me. And then when I landed here, I fell into the hands of a cockroach boss. He was a landsman, that's how he fooled me in. He used to come to the ship with a smiling face of welcome to all the greenhorns what had nobody to go to.
And then he'd put them to work in his sweatshop and sweat them into their grave. He looked up and smiled gratefully. I got enough money now to start for myself — maybe a tailor-shop — and soon — I — I want to marry myself — but none of those crazy chickens for me. Growing bolder, he exclaimed: "I got a grand idea. It's Monday and the bank is open yet till nine o'clock. I'll write over my bank-book on your name? I got a head. I got ideas.
I can catch on to the Americans quicker'n lighting. I'll download you teachers. I'll download you a piano. I'll make you for a lady. Right away you can stop from work.
Could I be such a beggerin? You are dearer to me than the eyes from my head!
I'd give the blood from under my nails for you! I want only to work for you — to live for you — to die for you — " He was spent with the surge of his emotion. To be loved as Sam Arkin loved! She covered her eyes, but it only pressed upon her the more.
Home, husband, babies, a bread-giver for life! And the Other — a dream — a madness that burns you up alive. But I can't help it. Him and him only I want. It's not only that I got to go up higher, but I got to push myself up by myself, by my own strength — " "Nu, nu," he sobbed. My bank-book is more than my flesh and blood — only take it, to do what you want with it. He went white with pain. And even she, immersed in her own thoughts, lowered her head before the dumb suffering on his face.
She felt she owed it to him to tell him. He is all that I want to be and am not yet. He is the hunger of me for the life that ain't just eating and sleeping and slaving for bread.
I need the earth, the whole free sky to breathe when I think of him. Come out in the air. Sam Arkin followed where she led through the crooked labyrinth of streets. The sight of the young mothers with their nursing infants pressed to their bared bosoms stabbed anew his hurt. Shenah Pessah, blind to all but the vision that obsessed her, talked on.
This fire in me, it's not just the hunger of a woman for a man — it's the hunger of all my people back of me, from all ages, for light, for the life higher! She felt almost as if it were a sacrilege to have spoken of that which was so deeply centered within her.
Sam Arkin's face became lifeless as clay. Bowed like an old man, he dragged his leaden feet after him. The world was dead — cold — meaningless. Bank-book, money — of what use were they now? All his years of saving could n't win her.
He was suffocated in emptiness. On they walked till they reached a deserted spot in the park. So spent was he by his sorrow that he lost the sense of time or place or that she was near. Leaning against a tree, he stood, dumb, motionless, unutterable bewilderment in his sunken eyes. All that you suffer I have suffered, and must yet go on suffering. There I shall learn to express myself, to voice my thoughts.
But I was not prepared to go to college. American Dream ]  The ideal of going to college was like the birth of a new religion in my soul. It put new fire in my eyes, and new strength in my tired arms and fingers. For six years I worked daytimes and went at night to a preparatory school. For six years I went about nursing the illusion that college was a place where I should find self-expression, and vague, pent-up feelings could live as thoughts and grow as ideas.
Every cent of the tuition fee I paid was drops of sweat and blood from underpaid laundry work. And what did I get for it? A crushed spirit, a broken heart, a stinging sense of poverty that I never felt before. I came because I longed for the larger life, for the stimulus of intellectual associations. I came because my whole being clamored for more vision, more light. Get off the grass. Like a bird just out from a cage, I stretched out my arms, and then flung myself in ecstatic abandon on the grass.
Get off the grass! I soon found other agents of clean society, who had the power of giving or withholding the positions I sought, judging me as Miss Whiteside judged me.
One glance at my shabby clothes, the desperate anguish that glazed and dulled my eyes and I felt myself condemned by them before I opened my lips to speak. And because my wages were so low and so unsteady, I could never get the money for the clothes to make an appearance to secure a position with better pay.
I was tricked and foiled. I was considered unfit to get decent pay for my work because of my appearance, and it was to the advantage of those who used me that my appearance should damn me, so as to get me to work for the low wages I was forced to accept.
I shuddered with horror whenever I had to pass the place blocks away. The hate which I felt for Miss Whiteside spread like poison inside my soul, into hate for all clean society. The whole clean world was massed against me. Whenever I met a well-dressed person, I felt the secret stab of a hidden enemy.
I was in the grip of that blinding, destructive, terrible thing—righteous indignation. I could not rest. I wanted the whole world to know that the college was against democracy in education, that clothes form the basis of class distinctions, that after graduation the opportunities for the best positions are passed out to those who are best-dressed, and the students too poor to put up a front are pigeon-holed and marked unfit and abandoned to the mercy of the wind.
I knew that the dean gave dinners to the faculty at regular intervals. I longed to burst in at one of those feasts, in the midst of their grand speech-making, and tear down the fine clothes from these well-groomed ladies and gentlemen, and trample them under my feet, and scream like a lunatic. Soap and water are cheap! Look at me! See how cheap it is! I had not energy enough for suicide.
Besides, in my darkest moments of despair, hope clamored loudest. Oh, I longed so to live, to dream my way up on the heights, above the unreal realities that ground me and dragged me down to earth. I did not find America in the sweatshops, much less in the schools and colleges. But for hundreds of years the persecuted races all over the world were nurtured on hopes of America. Where is America?
The people in the laundry? They never understood me. They had a grudge against me because I left them when I tried to work myself up. Could I speak to the college people? What did these icebergs of convention know about the vital things of the heart? I felt she was the only real teacher among all the teachers and professors I met.
She gave me life, air, the unconscious emanation of her beautiful spirit. I had not spoken a word to her, outside the experiments in chemistry, but I knew her more than the people around her who were of her own class. I felt in the throb of her voice, in the subtle shading around the corner of her eyes, the color and texture of her dreams.
The very intensity of my longing for her friendship made me run away from her in confusion the minute she approached me.
I was so conscious of my shabbiness that I was afraid maybe she was only trying to be kind. I wanted from her love, understanding, or nothing. She not only recognized me, but stopped to ask how I was, and what I was doing. And here was one from the clean world human enough to be friendly.In part, this narrative voice owes much to the verbal style of ghetto women's speech, of which Sally Ann Drucker writes, "Women's verbal styles differed from men's in the activities of quarreling, marketing, and worrying" 1.
She closed her eyes and she saw again his face with its joy-giving smile. Did you not swear to yourself that you would tear his memory out from your heart? She only screams, "I'll faint, I'll faint.
Immigrant Jewish identity and the female voice: Anzia Yezierska and Grace Paley
Moreover, it furthers demon- strates that the immigrant female is an especially proper candidate for 89 This content downloaded from Utterly spent she flung herself on the lounge, but she could not close her eyes. The clothes Pessah downloads include a dress of "the greenest, crispest organdie," and her hat sports a "luscious" bunch of red cherries p. Frequently, especially in her early stories, she uses a female narrator, Faith, who is part of an urban community which encompasses the park, the school, the library.
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