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Father of Russia versus Daughter of America
Time and time again, history has repeated itself in demonstrating that drastic cultural gaps between groups often lead to involute and persisting conflicts. Whether in Israel, where diverging customs between Palestinian and Israeli societies have led to disagreement, or in America where principles of different generations create strong disparities, cultural values consistently prove to be incompatible when pushed against one another. In the twentieth century novel Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska, the cultural gap in the Smolinsky family between the father's traditional Russian lifestyle and the daughter's American way of life creates a rift that develops into the most significant premise of the novel. Throughout the course of the book, the contrary positions on the basis of religion, attitude toward women, marriage, and forgiveness between father Reb and daughter Sara stand as the core conflicting values that persist until an inevitable finish in the novel. Religion stands to separate father and daughter throughout the course of the novel. With the father representing the Jews of Europe and Sara embodying the ideals of Americanized Jews, conflict quickly begins to stir in the book. Reb's perspective of the ideal Jew motivates him to spend countless hours in his room reciting passages from the Holy Torah and to better understand God's sacred teachings to humanity. On the other hand, the light of the Torah begins to diminish in Sara's eyes, as she starts to establish a sense of independence and individuality at the beginning of the novel. "More and more I began to see that Father, in his innocent craziness to hold up the Light of the Law to his children, was a tyrant more terrible than the Tsar from Russia" (Yezierska, 64). After driving away the lovers of each of his children, the father is seen by Sara as a man who is crushing the structure and dreams of the Smolinsky family, just as the Tsar had structured Russia the...
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