In Anna Yezierka’s short stories she describes the way in which immigrants are looked down upon by upper class Americans and the injustice that they suffer due to this.
The Lost ‘Beautifulness’:
The Lost ‘Beautifulness’ is a story of a woman, Hannah, who wants a “little beautifulness” in her home so that her son can walk in and feel proud of where they live, so she decides to paint her kitchen a brilliant white; she does this as much for herself as for her son, “I forget I’m only a nobody. It makes me feel I’m also a person”, the feeling of accomplishment makes her feel worthy and more like any other American. The landlord punishes her, increasing the rent, so that she can no longer afford to live there. When her son finally comes home from the war, he finds his mother homeless, sat on the street in tears. It is a very sad story of a woman who is only trying to do good with the little that she has, however the moral lesson seems to be that no matter how hard you try to move up in society, you inevitably will not be able to do so, even more so if you are an immigrant.
Soap and water:
Here, Yezierka tells the story of a Russian immigrant who comes to America in search of the ‘thrilling “golden country”’ that she had heard opportunities are in abundance. However she soon finds that America is a much harder and more difficult place for someone like her and she is very much judged based on her messy appearance, “I was in the grip of that blinding, destructive, terrible thing - righteous indignation”. The only way in which she finds the ‘America’ that she has been searching for is by the friend she makes in Miss Van Ness who treats her as an equal unlike all of those before her.
The Rescue tells the story of a bartender, Barker, with a shaky past and a boisterous prostitute, Betty, who go after a gang of criminals to save a young girl, Emily, who is also a prostitute. I believe the morals of this short story are similar to that of Yezierka’s immigrant stories as it shows that people will treat you differently depending where you stand in society. As Emily was a prostitute herself, she was looked down upon and the Sheriff tells Barker that “there are risks with that job” and that there is nothing he can do about it. However, with this story, Betty who is in the same position as Emily, just older and stronger, goes against what others thought was a lost cause and helps Barker save Emily and give her a better life after; showing that even though they may not have such a respectful job they aren’t confined to it and shouldn’t be so quickly judged because of it, as shown when Barker says “Betty had proven as capable as any man”.