The significance of the title in Anzia Yezierska's "Bread Givers".

Essay by ttoledoCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2006

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Throughout a lifetime, one is constantly told time and time again to not judge a book by its cover. Those who invest a great deal of their time into literature, however, know that the title of a book in many cases is an indicator of the overall message the author wishes to convey to those willing to take the time to analyze the text. This certainly rings true for the novel Bread Givers. This novel explores many aspects of individuality and personal definition of one's self with respect to gender, class, and religion, focusing on a group of women forced to live under the same roof with a man who genuinely feels that, according to the Torah, a woman without her husband or father is "less than nothing" (205). Yezierska gives the title its meaning through the characters' references and allusions to it and further exploration and analysis of what the phrase means to them individually should reveal why the term Bread Givers was deemed to hold so much significance that it was ultimately chosen as the book's namesake.

Reb Smolinsky is the father of Bessie, Fania, Mashah and Sara, as well as the husband of Shena. According to him, clearly the novel's patriarch, women are worthless without a husband or father to run their life and tell them what to do at all times. He is ultimately the novel's main bread giver, unfortunately, he does not provide for his family because he feels that work may interfere with his study of the Torah. To him, a bread giver must only posses one quality; to be a man. His view is very traditional and does not allow a place in society that women may come into their own and flourish as an individual. When Sara leaves for...