The book Call It Sleep written by Henry Roth is a literary work that explores immigrant life as they adjust to the new and unfamiliar ways of American life. The book is somewhat of a social commentary on the period of the Eastern European immigration to America at its peak. The novel gives an inside view on how foreigners (primarily Jewish immigrants) fit into main stream society. Throughout the course of the novel, you travel along with the main character David Schearl as he ages from six to eight and grows up in Brownsville on the lower East side of New York. David is torn between the love of his over protective mother and the hatred of his angry and mentally disturbed father in a quest to make sense of his life in contrast with all of the other immigrant children that he comes in contact with. All of the adventures that David encounters and all of the people that he comes in contact with are simply the author’s way of depicting an immigrants inner struggle and dealing with the pressures of life as seen through the eyes of a remarkably perceptive and imaginative child.
The opening scenes are set in New York harbor in 1907 at a time when the inflow of foreigners is at its peak. A woman and her small child come off of the boat to reunite with her husband that had gone before them to the new world to start a better life than they were used to in their old country. The author has you experience what it is like to come into New York Harbor and see the city skyline and the lights; and also to experience the feeling of hope and promise for a brighter future for the immigrants. However when Albert Schearl shows up late and uncaring to greet a wife and son who don’t recognize him right away, it is hinted to the reader that trouble is in store for the Schearl family.
The father Albert Schearl is introduced as a very haughty and proud individual that believes that he should abandon all signs of his former upbringing and conform to the American ways of life. He is a printer by trade however he cannot hold down a job long enough due to his violent and uncontrollable temperament. He thinks that people are constantly watching his every move therefore he cannot give
Young Goodman Brown: The Evils of Puritanism
Puritanism dominated 17th century history and literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne born in 1804 was an American writer who sought to resolve his conflicts with Puritanism through his writing. Hawthorne wrote several stories showing the world the horrors of the Puritan faith and the isolation of individuals who failed to uphold the faith. For Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown illustrates the difference between Puritan teaching and practicing and reflects his own guilt about the mistreatment of men at the hands of his forefathers.
Young Goodman Brown protagonist struggles with Puritanism is a reflection of Hawthorne personal conflicts with Puritanism. Hawthorne uses the story of Young Goodman Brown to illustrate Puritanism’s disconnection between their espoused beliefs and the application of their beliefs in their everyday life. In addition, Hawthorne uses events in his life in the story to help the reader understand the horrors visited on individuals deemed as sinners by the community. Goodman Brown’s father and grandfather mirror the events of Hawthorne’s forefathers. By using his personal experiences, Hawthorne allows the reader to glimpse his own guilt and guilt over his forefathers’ actions through Goodman Brown. From the beginning, Hawthorne lets the reader know the importance of this family connection as he states: “the second traveler was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance perhaps more in expression than feature. Still, they might have been take for father and son” (Hawthorne 387). Ronan compares the “biographical details [in] the narrative about Brown’s family indicate that he is a Hawthorne… Hawthorne’s great-great-great grandfather, Major Will…
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…an Brown.” The Norton Anthology American Literature 8th Ed. Vol. B. New York: W. W. Norton