The Short Stories
I feel both of Anna
Yezierka's short stories presented to me provided similar morals. From my grasp of the concept I saw both stories as tales of not quite yet Americanized enough immigrants who tried to live the dream, whether that was through going to college or by painting some kitchen walls, and ended up worse off.
What i feel this represents is that the american dream is only for Americans, even though in the second story 'soap and water' the main character is only drawn to america in the first place because of the american dream and the belief that she, a Russian immigrant who by my understanding had a limited English vocabulary, could make it and go to college to write poetry, in English. While, as a reader, I feel proud of her for managing to get to a passing standard in her class, one can't help but note how delusional the original goal of hers really was considering the time and place and her socio-economic status the third still holds people back from graduating high school in America today, let alone college. This I feel represents Americas disillusion in capitalism and their unwavering belief that it can conquer all inequality if one works hard enough. This is backed up especially since the girl in soap and water arguably works too hard so she has not time to keep herself clean and that is why she inevitability fails in the long run. Such horrible irony is exemplary of how one could say that immigrants need to be properly Americanized, in the sense of wearing clean clothes and presenting oneself in a proper manor, before they can even think of involving themselves properly in American society.
As the first story 'the lost "beautifulness"' demonstrates becoming American isn't necessarily a good thing. Hanneh Hayyeh is viewed as becoming more American when she decides to decorate her home with money she worked hard to save up to do. Her friends say that although she is doing it to benefit her son (who's name shortened to Aby suggests, at least in this day and age, that she is doing it for her baby, rather than to a grown man who's fighting for America overseas, which is suggestive of more Americanization in the family) but many of her friends feel that the only benefit from her painting the walls will be felt by the landlord because its not her walls that shes painting, its the landlord's. The reality painted by this short story is that to be American is to be a capitalist. and what is important to remember about capitalism is that what it does above all else is create inequality, it makes the rich; richer and the poor; poorer and since Americanized immigrants hardly ever come into the system rich the story presented here must have been only too common in 1920's immigrant America.
Six Shooter City
The task we were presented with here calls for a traditional western story. The one I found
not traditional, perhaps isn't in the sense that it wasn't set in the 1800's, it must have been later since a cell phone is mentioned once near the end however up until that point it is believable that the story was set in the traditional western era, I think that this is because its a make believe town set up to give people today an authentic western experience, however the author, although being told at the very beginning that everything was pretend, he seems to believe that some of the later happenings were real for the majority of the story that it is a fake town so it is portrayed as real. The short story compares easily to what immigrants had to face. The story starts with a boy and his Pa coming into a [fake] western town on a layover to the far west where there's gold, the boys Pa immediately engages with some sort of stand off with the sheriff of the town, from which nothing immediately amounts apart from the discovery that the town is a 'law abiding town'. Later, after the boy and his Pa go to get a drink (that tastes suspiciously like apple juice) they go to the bank to get out some money where they not only witness a bank robbery but are later accused of being a part. This is where I feel it relates to the immigrants experience, as the new comers are immediately accused because no one knows them well. first generation immigrants would have had to deal with people accusing them of all sorts of things, its easy to blame the new people who no one knows and don't speak much, if any English. While the story is set in a fake town i think the message is still valid and the fact that this scenario was considered plausible enough to be acted out means that many consider it a valid discourse of happenings that are not unknown in history.
The story ends with a fake hanging of all participants but one 4. The sheriff and his 2 deputies aren't even put in the fake nooses for obvious reasons.
the fourth participant who isn't fake hung is Pa. for some reason the rope that had been attached to him got caught in the tree they were pretending to hang the participants from and he was unfortunately hung for real.
The whole story closes with a passage written by the boy 15 years later and goes as follows; "Six Shooter City closed down after Pa’s death. The old wooden painted sign with the stagecoach and six shooters at the front entrance remained for a while, but the bank, the saloon, the jail and all of the other buildings were immediately boarded up. Weeds and dandelions replaced the tumbleweed. Hangman’s Hill looked the same as always. Fact is fifteen years to the day my Pa died, the Sheriff, who was really a car salesman and whose real name was Jack Goodson, was found hanging from the same tree. Folks said it was suicide. They too were wrong. Dead wrong."