Born narrative “How I Found America” she mentions some

 Born near Warsaw around 1885, Anzia Yezierska was a Jewish-Polish
writer.  In order for her and her family
to have a better life and live the American Dream, they immigrated to the United
States when she was around fifteen, joining her eldest brother Meyer. Wanting
to integrate more into the American life, Anzia’s family decided to take the
surname Mayer, while she was given the first name Harriet or Hattie. However,
she did not keep this name for too long and in her late twenties she returned
to her original name, Anzia Yezierska.  (Yezierska
233)            Anzia Yezierska was
married twice. The first marriage was with an attorney named Jacob Gordon, from
whom she divorced very quickly.  From her
second marriage with Arnold Levitas, she had a daughter named Louise which had
to live with the father because Yezierska was not able to support the two of
them when they moved to San Francisco. However around three years after she
left Levitas and moved back to New York, she met John Dewy, a philosopher at
the Columbia University, with whom she had a romantic relationship. (Schoen

Anzia Yezierska’s stories are usually based on her
experiences of life and talk about the struggles of Jewish immigrant women who
came to America but also about the dual identity of people: Jewish and
American. (Schoen 1)

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In her narrative “How I Found America” she mentions
some things about America:  “In America
you can say what you feel – you can voice your thoughts in the open streets without
fear of  a Cossack.  In America is a home for everybody. The land
is your land. . .  Everybody is with
everybody alike, in America.  Christians
and Jews are brothers together. An end to worry for bread. An end to the fear
of bosses over you. Everybody can do what he wants with his life in America . .
. Plenty for all. Learning flows free like milk and honey.” (Schoen 2)

            Some critics did not understand her work and others regarded
her as a patriotic assimilationist. However, Yezierska was considered by most
of the critics as someone who writes in poor English, sincere and deficient
short stories, even novels. As an example, critic Joyce Carol Oates states:
“Yezierska writes without irony, however; she is never critical of the lure of “Americanization”
itself. And unlike fellow contemporaries (unlike Henry Roth, for instance,
whose Call It Sleep is of course a work of far greater psychological subtlety
than Yezierska’s), she did not appear to take an interest in the craft of
fiction itself, and one must read her with expectations appropriate to her
intention.” ( Konzett  20)

            Sociologist Alice Kessler Harris thinks that Yezierska “became
the American dream come true. And her fiction illuminates the meaning of the
dream.” ( Konzett 20 )

            Recently critics started understanding Anzia Yezierska and
her writing style, seeing her as an author who “questioned the cultural and
national narratives surrounding the making of Americans.” (  Konzett 21)

            Thomas Ferraro and other critics like Magdalena Zaborowska,
Gay Wilentz, and Katherine Stubbs explored Anzia Yeziererska’s stylistic innovations
in novels and stories but at the same time her contribution to the modernism realism.
Furthermore, Thomas Ferraro gives an explanation that Yezierska is known for her
“pretense, tirelessly reiterated,” ( Konzett 21) and not for her attempt to
write from a totally new perspective: “The reception . . . of Yezierska’s prose
has been almost entirely a function of the cult of Lower East Side authenticity
that enveloped her in the 1920s and continues to frame our portrait of her.
Proclaimed as a rags-to-literary-riches heroine, “the Cinderella of the
Tenements,” Yezierska took center stage at press banquets in her honor, spun
fantastic accounts of herself for the Sunday color supplements of East Coast
tabloids and national magazines, and even played the role of
screenwriter-starlet for the publicity machinery of Goldwyn’s Hollywood. It was
not the immigrant fiction that commanded attention, then, but the immigrant
writer herself: Yezierska as the unassimilated “Russian Jewess,”
fairy-godmothered into professional authorship as if she had not left the Lower
East Side at all . . . the most crucial contribution to the mythology of
Yezierska was her pretense, tirelessly reiterated, that the transition from the
Lower East Side to Washington Square involved nothing more than a short
afternoon stroll.” ( Konzett 21)

The story “America and I” written by Anzia Yezierska
is based on her experiences of finding a job in America. She came to America,
just like other immigrants, with hopes of building a new and better life one
that she could not achieve in her homeland. During her ‘journey’ in America she
has a total of three jobs that she speaks about in her short story: as a maid,
a button sewer and an employee in a factory.

Her first job is as a servant for a family of
Americanized Russians, that came from the same town as her. Despite the fact
that she was never told how much she will be paid she is happy to live with
Americans and works hard every day.  After
a month passed, she is happy that she will get paid and have money; “money to
buy a new shirt on my back—shoes on my feet. Maybe yet an American dress and
hat!” ( Yezierska 2 ) However, the family she works for had no intent in paying

When she goes to them to ask for her wages, her money,
she is treated coldly by the both of them and is told that she needs to be
worth the money in order to get paid and that she has a better life than other
immigrants since she has three meals a day and a bed in which she sleeps but
also that she should be happy since they are kipping her there;  “Haven’t you a comfortable bed to sleep, and
three good meals a day? You’re only a month here. Just came to America. And you
already think about money. Wait till you’re worth any money. You should be glad
we keep you here. It’s like a vacation for you. Other girls pay money yet to be
in the country.” (Yezierska 2 )

After hearing their words, she loses her trust in any
Americanized family or American person and returns to the Ghetto. Yezierska
gets a job at a sweatshop where she sews buttons and earns money only to pay
for the mattress she was sleeping on in a room full of dozens of  other immigrants.  Even though she does not have a bed to sleep
on and is hungry mostly all of the time unlike the time when she worked for
the  Americanized family, she likes and
enjoys her new job more than the previous one. But when the shop gets busier
she does not enjoy it because she does not have enough free time and when she
was asked to work longer hours again, she complains which gets her fired. “I
only want to go home. I only want the evening to myself!” ( Yezierska 4 )

            Gaining enough
experience, she is able to get a better paid job in a factory where she does
the same thing as she did in the sweatshop. But unlike the job at the sweatshop
this one provides her more free time for herself and also a free day.  Yet she still feels likes she doesn’t belong
there because she cannot speak English well enough.

Luckily for her, in the factory starts an English
course for foreigners which she decides to attend. She learns how to read and
write in English but she is still sad because she is not able to express
herself the way she wanted in English.  She
approaches her teacher and after she hears her teacher’s advice, she decides to
join a social club run by American women to help immigrant girls. There she
attends a lecture about how to be a happy and efficient worker. Yet Anzia Yezierska
is still not able to understand how can someone be happy if they are not doing
a job they love. After the lecture, she goes to a consoler, telling her about
what kind of job she desires, one that allows her to express her creativity so
the consoler advices her to become a shirtwaist designer.

Yezierska begins to read about the American history.
From her reading she finds out how the Pilgrims left their native country, just
like she did. As she continues to read through the pages, she discovers that
the Pilgrims wanted to create a world for them, an America, unlike her who only
wanted to find it already made. Further on, she finds out that they never asked
for sympathy nor understanding unlike her who was doing the exact opposite.  When she understands that she needs to contribute
as well in the making of America, she begins writing about her life and the
life of other immigrants because to her “life draws life.” ( Yezierska7)

The conclusion everyone can get from reading
this short story written by Anzia Yezierska is that without any struggles you
cannot achieve whatever you want in life