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Comparing Bread Givers and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

A Realistic Look at Bread Givers and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

America is a country that was created and settled by immigrants from many different lands. These immigrants came to America in search of the “American Dream” of freedom and a better way of life, and their narratives have been recorded by various authors in both fiction and non-fiction stories. But can the fiction genre be considered a reliable source for studying the immigrant narrative? If American immigrant literature is to be used as a reliable source for understanding the immigrant experience, one needs to justify that this literature properly tracks the history of the immigrant narrative.

In an effort to justify the fiction genre as a reliable source for understanding the immigrant narrative, we will look at the personal life and fictional works of both Anzia Yezierska and Julia Alvarez, two second generation immigrant authors, who have written about immigrant experiences. In doing so we will determine if the personal stories of these ladies follow the basic immigrant narrative, if their fiction stories convey a realistic depiction of the immigrant people they write about, and as a result can we surmise that American immigrant literature can be a reliable source for understanding the immigrant experience?

The American immigrant narrative starts with the immigrant’s decision to leave the old world. The reasons for leaving may vary from person to person and country to country, but all come seeking a better life than they had in the old world. The narrative continues with the actual journey to the new world and the struggles that are encountered along the way. Once in America, many immigrants face shock at the new culture they enco…

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…n America, and the fiction genre can be a reliable and enjoyable source for understanding the immigrant experience in this multi-cultural society we call the United States of America.

Works Cited

Alvarez, Julia. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. New York: Plume, 1992.

Alvarez, Julia. Something to Declare. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1998.

Contemporary Authors. Vol. 147. Detroit: Gale, 1995

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 46. Detroit: Gale, 1988.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 93. Detroit: Gale, 1996.

Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 28. Detroit: Gale, 1984

Harris, Alice. Preface. Bread Givers. By Anzia Yezierska. New York: Persea, 1975. v-xviii.

Seller, Maxine. To Seek America: A History of Ethnic Life in the United States. Englewood: Ozer, 1977.

Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers. New York: Persea, 1975.

Suicide in Bartleby and Life in the Iron Mills

Suicide in Bartleby and Life in the Iron Mills

Life in the Iron Mills and Bartleby are centered on characters who are alienated laborers, looking for means through which they cannot be deprived of their humanity. Hugh Wolfe and Bartleby are both workers who have been victimized by the capitalistic system. As Karl Marx explains, the capitalistic system exploits the laborer and thus robs the laborer of his humanity through alienating the laborer. Both Wolfe and Bartleby become victims of the system, for they are not only alienated and dehumanized. But in their struggle against the system, they take their own lives. Their suicides are representative of how far alienation reached into the lives of Bartleby and Wolfe and how far each of them was willing to go in order to be self-reliant.

Bartleby joins the lawyer’s office as a scrivener, after having worked for the Dead Letters Office. As explained by the lawyer, the scriveners were paid four cents a folio, and under the employment of the lawyer, the scriveners also had to run errands for the lawyer, as well as help in proof reading the copied documents. The employer did not compensate for these other tasks. Thus, it was obvious as to why “Bartleby was never on any account to be dispatched on the most trivial errand of any sort; and that even if entreated to take upon such a matter, it was generally understood that he would ‘prefer not to’- in other words, that he would refuse point blank.” (Melville 15). For one thing, Bartleby was not being paid for the errands, but for the writing he did. Also, this defiance is a means through which he was preserving his autonomy. Bartleby was making a decision as to what he was and was not going to do. Bartleby’s employer notice…

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…us how society was changing and how the members were reacting to such changes and to the breaking down of society. The alienation of the laborer was taking place and the goal of self reliance was being pushed further away from those very people. Humanity was replaced by competition and greed. Society was not where people lived, but became a ladder that needed to be climbed.

Works Cited

Davis, Rebecca Harding. Ed. Cecelia Tichi. Life in the Iron Mills. Bedford Books, Boston. 1998. Pgs. 39-74

Durkheim, Emile. Trans. John A. Spaulding and George Simpson. Suicide; A Study in Sociology. The Free Press, New York. 1987. Pgs. 297-325

Emerson, Ralph, Waldo. Self Reliance and Other Essays. Dover Publications, Inc. New York. 1993. Pgs. 19-39

Melville, Herman. Bartleby and Benito Cereno. Dover Publications, Inc. New York. 1993. Pgs. 1-34

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