Sunday, 1 March 2015

Moral Tales of Immigrant Experience

Anzia Yezierska: The Lost "Beautifulness" & Soap and Water

Both short stories contain moral tales of the immigrant experience, the first of a woman that aimed to make a piece of property that was not in her ownership better, which in turn increased the value and her rent - an unfairness that is the result of her putting work into some else's property; and the second the story of a woman that used all of her money to put herself through college and was unable to afford soap and water - yet in the end was reunited with the woman that embodied everything she had strived towards. 

The Lost "Beautifulness" tells the story of a woman, Hanneh, that saved and saved to redecorate the kitchen of the house she was renting for her son when he came home, yet was driven nearly insane by the raised rent of the apartment and ruined her kitchen which resulted in her eviction. Hanneh refused to take charity from her friend, despite the promise that they'd help change the rules. Instead she decided to ruin her work, her "beautifulness", because if she cannot enjoy it then she believes that no one else can. The idea of the story seems to depict a theme of unfairness in life and that by being caught up in creating beauty for her son to come home to, Hanneh forgot her senses and lost her house, despite her husband warning her that she should have saved that money for the possibility of something bad happening. Hanneh seems to dream up a perfect life that she could not attain, even through creating the "beautifulness" she worked so hard to achieve.

Soap and Water tells of an immigrant that worked day in day out to put herself through college and ended up only being discriminated against for not being able to afford soap and water, as they were considered 'cheap' by the upper and middle class Americans that daren't associate with her. The tale ends with her not achieving her diploma because of her ugly appearance, despite her having supported herself through poverty to send herself to college, which makes her want to rebel against the divisions of class. It could almost be interpreted as America not being so far from the traditional class system of Europe as it would like.

Jeremy Lane: Souls in the Wind

This short story tells of a man who owns a farm and his best workman, Smoke, is black and has an attractive young daughter that the man's son has fallen in love with, and she him. The pair run off together and the two fathers chase after them to find that the quite corrupt sheriff has found them first and intends to charge the son with kidnap after an altercation with the father earlier in the story. It has a cyclical narrative, ending with Briscoe saying he's going to "dig that man a grave", the same way he did the lynched black man at the beginning of the story. The moral seems to be of the inevitable equality of men, when they die they all end up in graves just the same.


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