full title Bread Givers
author Anzia Yezierska
type of work Novel
genre Coming-of-age; family drama
time and place written New York City in the early 1920s
date of first publication 1925
narrator Sara Smolinsky
point of view The narrator speaks in first person, focusing only on Sara’s thoughts, feelings, and perspective. Though the motivations of the other characters are occasionally discussed, the narrator usually gives only an objective view of their appearance and actions as they would appear to an outside observer.
tone The narrator’s tone is passionate as she discusses her feelings, life, and family.
tense Past tense
setting (time) 1910s to early 1920s
setting (place) New York City
protagonist Sara Smolinsky
major conflict Sara struggles to develop her own identity against the opposition of her father and culture.
rising action After Reb Smolinsky crushes Sara’s sisters’ dreams in the name of culture, Sara becomes more and more aware of her father’s tyranny and injustice.
climax After her father berates a minor decision of Sara’s, she can no longer take the constant scolding and restrictions, and she runs away to begin a new life.
falling action Living on her own, Sara works to become a teacher and to reconcile her need for independence with her need for her father’s acceptance
themes The hazards of dependence; the conflict between independence and family obligations; the elusiveness of happiness
motifs Inadequate providers; the oppression of women; the yearning for pleasure
symbols Internal light; solitude; a “real” person