JEWISH WOMEN AND THE SPECTER OF THE OLD WORLD IN JEWISH IMMIGRANT FICTION
Greer, Lena Basham
This thesis examines three Jewish-American authors and how they portray the main female character in relation to the main male character to expand the research of gender discourse in literary analysis. There was a wave of Jewish immigration to the United States from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century as Jewish populations sought refuge from persecution in their country of origin. There were conflicting ideas surrounding what the "American Dream" meant for this ethnic group. Orthodox Jewish men dreamed of opportunities to continue the patriarchal societal structure that American society also reflected; however, the illusion of opportunities in America led many Jewish women to dream of finally pursuing things long denied, such as an education. The Jewish immigrant women who attempted to realize their dreams were met with heavy opposition from both Orthodox Jewish enforcers and American society, causing many Jewish women to settle for their traditional gender role/identity. Because Jewish women are not well documented in the historical record, Jewish immigrant fiction is used to identify the Jewish immigrant women's experience with facing the problems with the myth--that is also known as the American Dream. The works used in the literary analysis are Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto (1896) by Abraham Cahan, The Assistant (1957) by Bernard Malamud, and Bread Givers (1925) by Anzia Yezierska. What emerges in the literary analysis is that Jewish-American male authors present Jewish women as incapable of melding Jewish and American ideas, whereas Yezierska portrays a Jewish woman as bold and capable against the specter of the patriarchal hegemony. All of the Jewish women surveyed depict the struggle with hybrid identity development; however, the only Jewish woman who seems comfortable with how her identity has evolved to become Jewish-American is Yezierska's character, Sara. Both Cahan and Malamud's female characters' stories end with a hesitation and fear because they are unable to meld the Jewish and American aspects of their lives.
Greer, Lena Basham. (January 2015). JEWISH WOMEN AND THE SPECTER OF THE OLD WORLD IN JEWISH IMMIGRANT FICTION (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4902.)
Greer, Lena Basham. JEWISH WOMEN AND THE SPECTER OF THE OLD WORLD IN JEWISH IMMIGRANT FICTION. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2015. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4902. October 28, 2020.
Greer, Lena Basham, “JEWISH WOMEN AND THE SPECTER OF THE OLD WORLD IN JEWISH IMMIGRANT FICTION” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2015).
Greer, Lena Basham. JEWISH WOMEN AND THE SPECTER OF THE OLD WORLD IN JEWISH IMMIGRANT FICTION [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2015.
East Carolina University