Solved by verified expert:Based on your careful reading of the three stories, take some notes and prepare your discussion posts for Discussion #2.The readings for Week 2 feature the genre of fiction, including short
stories by African-American author Charles Chesnutt (“The Wife of His
Youth”; 1898), (Available though this link https://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/chesnuttwife/che…), )Asian-American immigrant author Sui Sin Far, a.k.a. Edith
Maud Eaton (“In The Land of the Free”; 1909, 1912) (posted below), and Russian-Jewish
writer Anzia Yezierska (“The Lost ‘Beautifulness'”; 1920) (posted below).All three stories represent early multicultural American literature
written in the mode of Realism (and Regionalism/Local Color fiction): LIT 273 Realism Notes.pdf (Posted below)The discussion forum is open-ended, so you may determine your topics and approaches, as long as you discuss at least two of the stories and cover relevant literary devices/techniques of fiction in one of the texts/posts. You may focus one post on each (single) text or compare/contrast two or more texts based on a specific point of comparison. Potential topics for discussion are provided in the Discussion #2 study guide. (posted below) You may also wish to consult the relevant handouts as needed.Choose at least two stories as the focus of your required discussion posts. You may determine the topic of your posts but should identify and examine at least one device of fiction in one of your required texts/posts.Students should complete a minimum of two posts and two replies
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Anzia Yezierska was one of the most celebrated of the first-generation immigrant
writers of the 1920s and 1930s, recorders of the struggle of newcomers both to
become “American” and to remain loyal to the old ways and to confront those native
born who would deny them full membership in the American community. Unlike
immigrant writers who portrayed the newcomers as a monolithic group of victims,
Yezierska explored the generational and gendered conflicts vvithin the immigrant
population and especially within families. Her fiction is replete with young women
who, like herself, rebelled guiltily against parental expectations of female docility
and self-abnegation. “This is America!”-one character exclaims to her tyrannical
father-“where children are people too!” Her neglected work was rediscovered in the
1970s by historians interested in ethnicity and by feminists searching for forgotten
Born in the village of Plinsk near Warsaw in Poland, most likely in 1880 or 1881 ,
Yezierska was th e third youngest of her parents’ ten children . Some of her older
brothers wen t to America around 1890, and a few years later the rest of the family
joined them. An immigration official changed th eir name to “Mayer,” but Yezierska
resumed th e family name when she became a professional writer.
Her parents’ expectations tha t they could maintain Old World values while
enjoying New World affluence were quickly shattered. Living in the de facto Jewish
ghetto of the lower East Side in New York City, the family struggled within an Old
World patriarchal Jewish family structure in which the male head devoted himself to
scholarship to enhance the family’s status while the wife and children earned the
fa mily livelihood. Yezierska’s family lived in poverty; Yezierska herself worked in
la.undri es and sweatshops as a child.
Looking back, she was horrified at her father’s domestic despotism but recognized
that through his example she had perceived the value of education. She em ancipated
herself through learning, attending public school, night classes, and finally Teachers
College at Columbia University, where, thanks to scholarships’ provided by upperclass women committed to the “Americanization” of immigrants , she received a
degree in domestic science. This was not Yezierska’s preferred subject-her later
rejection of all housework bears this out-but conventional social thinking of the
day where immigrant women were concerned recommended that they be trained in
middle-class values and homemaking skills by teachers with backgrounds like their
own. The call for such teachers made scholarships available to talented young
women like Yezierska.
As a stud ent and teacher she made many friends , and aro und 1910 she beca me
involved with radical socialism. Although she was sympathetic to the radi cal co mmitment to social justice for the poor and oppressed, she was in essence an individualist
who steered clear of political movements. Following a first marriage that was
an nulled after only a few weeks, she married Arnold Levitas, a businessman , in 1910.
They had a child, Louise, in 1912, but their views of marriage, family, an d domesticity were at odds, and Yezierska soon opted out of married life. An attempt to support
herself and her daughter in California failed; she returned to New York, surrendered
her daughter to Levitas, and struck out on her own. She had begun to write while in
California, publishing her first short story in 191 5, and this was the profess ion that
she now decided to fo llow. She worked laboriously over everything she produced,
turning out draft after draft before she was satisfied. One of the short stori es she
published in 1919 won a prize as best story of the year, and her first book of stories,
Hungry Hearts (1920), was so widely circ ulated and praised th at Samuel Goldwyn,
the film producer, bought it and brought Yezierska to Hollywood to work on the
screenplay. In typical Hollywood fas hion, publicity for Yezierska fea tured her as the
“Cinderella of the slums .” She hated th e film, which appeared in 1922, and returned
to New York City, publishing an acclaimed novel, Salome of the Tenements, in the
same year. H er second book of short stories, Children of Loneliness, appeared in
1923, and a semiautobiographical novel, Bread Givers (subtitled “A Struggle between
a Fath er of the Old World and a Daughter of the New”), came out in 192 5.
By the mid-l 920s Yezierska was caught in the contradiction of her success ; she
was expec ted to write abo ut Jewish immigrant life and yet was criticized for repetitiveness when she did so. By the tim e she produced her second autobiographical
work, Red Ribbon on a White Horse, in 195 0, her reputa tion had declined dra matically. Despite poverty and obscurity, however, Yezierska continued to write and publish stories, essays, a nd reviews, although not at her earlier pace. Late in life she
moved to California to be near her daughter, to whom she had always rem ained
close. She died in a nursing home in 1970.
The text is from Hungry Hearts ( 1920).
ANZIA Y E ZI E R SKA
The Lost “Beautifulness”
“Oi weh!1 How it shines the beautifulness!” exulted Hann eh Hayyeh over
her newly painted kitchen . She cast a glance full of worship and adoration
a t the picture of h er son in uniform; eyes like her own , shining with eagern ess, with joy of life, looked back at her.
“Aby will not have to shame himself to come back to his old home,” she
rejoiced, clapping h er hands-hands blistered from the paintbrush and calloused from rough toil. “Now h e’ll be able to invite all the grandest friends
he made in the army. ”
Th e smell of the paint was suffocating, but she inhaled in it huge draughts
of hidden beauty. For weeks sh e had dreamed of it and felt in each tin of
paint she was able to buy, in each stroke of the brush , the ecstasy of loving
service for the son she idolized.
Ever since she first began to wash the fine silks and linen s for Mrs. Preston, years ago, it had been Hanneh Hayyeh’s ambition to have a whitepainted kitchen exactly like that in the old Stuyvesant Square mansion . Now
her own kitchen was a dream come true.
Hanneh Hayyeh ran in to h er husband, a stoop-shouldered, care-crushed
man who was leaning against the bed, his swollen feet outstretched, counting the pennies th at totaled his day’s earnings.
“Jake Safransky!” she cried exci tedly, “you got to come in and give a look
on my painting befo re you go to sleep .”2
“Oi, let me alone. Give me only a res t.”
Too in toxicated with th e joy of achievement to take no fo r an an swer, she
dragged him into the doorway. ” 1u ?3 How do yo u like it? Do I kn ow what
bea utiful is?”
“But h ow much money did you sp end o ut on th at paint?”
“It was my own money,” sh e said , wiping th e perspiration off her face
with a corner of h er apron . “Every penny I earn ed myself fro m the extra
“But yo u had ou ght save it up fo r th e bad times. W hat’ll yo u do wh en the
cold weather starts in and the push cart will n ot wheel itself out?”
“I save and pinch enough for myself. T his I done in h on or for my son. I
want m y Aby to lift up his h ead in the world . I want him to be able to invite
even the President from America to his home and shame himself.”
“You’d pull the bananas off a blind man ‘s pushcart to bring to your Aby.
You know nothing from holding tight to a dollar and savin g a penny to a
penny like poor p eople should.”
“What do I got from living if I can ‘t have a little beautifulness in my life ?
I don’t allow fo r myself the ten cents to go to a moving picture that I’m crazy
to see. I n ever yet treated myself to an ice-cream soda even for a h oliday.
Shining up the hou se for Aby is my only pleasure. ”
“Yah , but it ain’t your h ou se. It’s the landlord’s.”
1. O h, woe (Yiddish , litera l tra ns .); a lso used to
express inte nse feelin g, as in this case. Yiddish ,
originally a vernacular German dialect, was the
language of the Euro-Jewish Diaspora. It is written with the H ebrew alphabet and incorporates
some Hebrew expressions
2. Presumably the charac ters a re speaking Yid-
dish ; Yezierska’s dia logue captures the rhyth ms
and expressions of that la nguage in English , and
her prose is, therefore, accurate to the idioms of
English as spoke n by turn -of-the-century Jewish
im.migrants as we ll.
3. So? (Yiddish).
” B EAU TIF ULNESS ”
“Don’t I live in it? I soak in pleasure from every inch of my kitchen. Why,
I could kiss the grand white color on the walls. It lights up my eyes like
sunshine in the room. ”
Her glance traveled from the n ewly painted walls to the geranium on the
window-sill, and back to her husband’s face.
“Jake! ” she cried, shaking him, “ain’t you got eyes? How can you look on
the way it dances the beautifulness from every corner and not j ump in the
air from h appiness?”
“I’m only thinking on the money you spent out on the landlord’s house.
Look only on me! I’m black from worry, but no care lays on your head. It
only dreams itself in you how to make yourself for an American and lay in
every penny you got on fixing out the house like the rich.”
“I’m sick of living like a pig with my nose to the earth, all the time only
pinching and scraping for bread and rent. So long my Aby is with America,
I want to make myself for an American. I could tear the stars out from
heaven for my Aby’s wish.”
H er sunken cheeks were flush ed and her eyes glowed with light as she
gazed about her.
“When I see myself around the house how I fixed it up with my own
hands , I forget I’m only a nobody. It makes me feel I’m also a person like
Mrs. Preston. It lifts me with high thoughts. ”
“Why didn’t you marry yourself to a millionaire? You always want to make
yourself like Mrs. Preston who got millions laying in the bank. ”
“But Mrs. Preston does make me feel that I’m alike with h er,” returned
Hanneh Hayyeh, proudly. “Don’t she talk herself out to me like I was her
friend? Mrs. Preston says this war4 is to give everybody a chance to lift up
his h ead like a person. It is to bring together the people on top who got
everything and th e p eople on the bottom who got nothing. Sh e’s been telling
me about a new word- democracy. It got me on fire. Democracy means that
everybody in America is going to be with everybody alike.”
“Och! Stop yo ur dreaming out of your head. Close up your mouth from
your foolishness. Women got long hair and small brain s,” he finished, muttering as he went to bed.
At the busy gossiping hour of the following morning wh en the butchershop was crowded with women in dressing-sacks and wrappers covered over
with shawls, Hanneh H ayyeh elbowed h er way into the clamorous babel of
“What are you so burning? What are you so flaming? ”
“She’s always on fire with the wonders of her son.”
“Th e whole world must stop still to listen to what news her son writes to
“She thinks her son is the only one soldier by the American army. ”
“My Benny is also one great wonder fro m smartness, but I ain’t su ch a
crazy mother like she.”
The voices of her neighbors rose from every corner, but Hanneh Hayyeh,
deaf to all, projected herself forward.
“What are you pushing yourself so wild? You ain’t going to get your meat
first. Ain’t it, Mr. Sopkin, all got to wait their turn?”
Mr. Sopkin glanced up in the midst of cutting apart a quarter of meat. H e
4. World War I, whic h the United States entered in 191 7.
wiped his knife on his greasy apron and leaned across the counter.
“Nu? Hanneh Hayyeh?” his ruddy face beamed. “Have you another letter
from little Aby in France? What good news have you got to tell us?”
“No-it’s not a letter,” she· retorted, with a gesture of impatience. “The
good news is that I got done with the painting of my kitchen – andyou -all
got to come and give a look how it shines in my house like in a palace.”
Mr. Sopkin resumed cutting the meat.
“Oi weh!” clamored Hanneh Hayyeh, with feverish breathlessness. “Stop
with your meat already and quick come. The store ain’t going to run away
from you! It will take only a minute. With one step you are upstairs in my
house.” She flung out her hands: “And everybody got to come along.”
“Do you think I can make a living from looking on the wonders you turn
over in your house?” remonstrated the butcher, with a twinkle in his eye.
“Making money ain’t everything in life. My new-painted kitchen will light
up your heart with joy.”
Seeing that Mr. Sopkin still made no move, she began to coax and wheedle, woman-fashion. “Oi weh! Mr. Sopkin! Don’t be so mean. Come only.
Your customers ain’t going to run away from you. If they do, they only got
to come back, because you ain’t a ·skinner. You weigh the meat honest.”
How could Mr. Sopkin resist such seductive flattery?
“Hanneh Hayyeh!” he laughed. ‘-‘You’re crazy up in the air, but nobody
can say no to anything you take into your head.”
He tossed his knife down on the counter. -“Everybody!” he called; “let us
do her the pleasure and give a look on what she got to show us .”
“Oi weh! I ain’t got no time,” protested one. “I left my baby alone in the
house locked in.”
“And I left a pot of eating on the stove boiling. It must be all burned away
by this time.”
“But you all got time to stand around here·and chatter like a box of monkeys, for hours,” admonished Mr. Sopkin. “This will only take a minute. You
know Hanneh Hayyeh. We can’t tear ourselves away from her till we do
what wills itself in her mind.”
Protesting and gesticulating, they all followed Mr. Sopkin as Hanneh
Hayyeh led the way. Through the hallway of a dark, ill-smelling tenement,
up two flights of crooked, rickety stairs, they filed. When Hanneh Hayyeh
opened the door there were exclamations of wonder and joy: “Oil Oil” and
“Ay! Ay! Takeh! 5 Takeh!”
“Gold is shining from every corner!”
“Like for a holiday!”
– “You don’t need to light up the gas, so it shines!”
“I wish I could only h ave it so grand!”
“You ain’t got worries on your head, so it lays in your mind to make it so
Mr. Sopkin stood with mouth open, stunned with wonder at the transformation.
Hanneh H ayyeh shook him by the sleeve exultantly. “Nu? Why ain’t you
“Grand ain’t the word for it! Wha t a whiteness! And what a cleanliness! It
5. Hebrew expression of awe.
THE LOST ” BEAUTIFULNESS ”
tears out the eyes from the head! Such a tenant the landlord ought to give
out a medal or let down the rent free. I saw the rooms before and I see them
now. What a difference from one house to another. ”
“Ain’t you coming in?” Hanneh Hayyeh besought her neighbors.
“God from the world! To step with our feet on this new painted floor? ”
“Shah!” said the butcher, taking off his apron and spreading it on the
floor. “You can all give a step on my apron. It’s dirty,· anyhow.”
They crowded in on the outspread apron and vied with one another in
their words of praise.
“May you live to see your son married from this kitchen, and may we all
be invited to the wedding! ”
“May you live to eat here cake _and wine on the feasts of your grandchildren !”
“May you have the luck to get rich and move from here into your own
“Amen! ” breathed Hanneh Hayyeh. “May we all forget from our worries
for rent! ”
Mrs . Preston followed with keen delight Hanneh Hayyeh’s every movement as she lifted the wash from the basket and spread it on the bed. Hanneh Hayyeh’s rough, toil-worn hands lingered lovingly, caressingly over each
garment. It was as though the fabrics held something subtly animate in their
texture that penetrated to her very finger-tips .
“Hanneh Hayyeh! You’re an artist!” There was reverence in Mrs. Preston’s
low voice that pierced the other woman’s inmost being. “You do my laces
and batistes as no one else ever has. It’s as if you breathed part of your soul
The hungry-eyed, ghetto woman drank in thirstily the beauty and goodness that radiated from Mrs. Preston’s person. None of the cultured elegance of her adored friend escaped Hanneh Hayyeh. Her glance traveled
from the exquisite shoes to the flawless hair of the well-poised head.
“Your things got so much fineness. I’m crazy for the feel from them. I do
them up so light in my hands like it was thin air I was handling. ”
Hanneh Hayyeh pantomimed as she spoke and Mrs. Preston, roused from
h er habitual reserve, put her fine, white hand affectionately over Hanneh
Hayyeh’s gnarled, roughened ones.
“Oi-i-i-i! Mrs. Preston! You always make me feel so grand!” said Hanneh
Hayyeh, a mist of tears in her wistful eyes. “When I go away from you I
could just sit down and cry. I can’t give it out in words what it is. It chokes
me so-how good-you are to me-You ain’t at all like a rich lady. You’re so
plain from the heart. You make the lowest nobody feel he’s somebody.”
“You are not a ‘nobody,’ Hanneh Hayyeh. You are an artist-an artist
“What mean you an artist?”
“An artist is so filled with love for the beautiful that he has to express it
in some way. You express it in your washing just as a painter paints it in a
“Paint?” exclaimed Hanneh Hayyeh. “If you could only give a look how I
painted up m y kitchen! It lights up the whole tenement house for blocks
around. The grocer and the butcher and all the neighbors were jumping in
the air from wonder and joy when they seen how I shined up my house. ”
AN ZIA YEZIERSKA
“And all in honor of Aby’s home-coming?” Mrs. Preston smiled, her
thoughts for a moment on her own son, the yo ungest captain in hi s regiment
whose home-coming had been delayed from week to week.
“Everything I do is done for my Aby,” breathed Hanneh Hayyeh, her
hands clasping her bosom as if feeling again the throb of his babyhood at
her heart. “But this painting was already dreaming itself in my head for
years. You remember the time the hot iron fell on my foot and you came to
see me and brought me a red flower-pot wrapped around with green crepe
paper? That flower-pot opened up the sky in m y kitchen .” The words surged
from the seething soul of her. “Right away I saw before my eyes how I could
shine up m y kitchen like a parlor by painting the walls and sewing up new
curtain s for the window. It was like seeing before me your face every time I
looked on your flowers . I used to talk to it like it could hear and feel and
see. And I said to it: ‘I’ll show you what’s in m e. I’ll show you that I know
what beautiful is. ‘ ”
Her face was aglow with an enthusiasm that made it seem young, like a
young girl’s face.
“I begged myself by the landlord to paint up my kitchen, but he wouldn’t
listen to me. So I seen that if I eyer hoped to fix up my house, I’d have to
spend out my own money. And I began to save a penny to a penny to have
for the paint. And when I seen the painters, I always stopped them to ask
wh ere and how to buy it so that it should come out the cheapest. By day
and by night it burned in me the picture-my kitchen shining all white like
yo urs , till I couldn’t rest till I done it. ”
With all her breeding, with all the restraint of her Anglo-Saxon forbears ,
Mrs. Preston was strangely shaken by Hanneh Hayyeh’s consuming passion
for beauty. She looked deep into the eyes of the Russian Jewess as if drinking in the secret of their hidden glow.
“I am eager to see that wonderful kitchen of yours,” she said, as Hanneh
Hayyeh bade her good-bye.
Hanneh Hayyeh walked home, her thoughts in a whirl with the glad anticipation of M rs. Preston’s promised visit. She wondered how she might share
the joy of Mrs. Preston ‘s presence with the butc her and all the neighbors.
“I’ll bake up a shtrudel cake,” she thought to herself. “They ,¥ill all want to
come to get a taste of the cake and then they’ll give a look on Mrs. Preston.”
Thus smiling and talking to h erself sh e went about her work. As she bent
over the wash-tub rubbing the clothes, she visualized …
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