Essay Draft 1



In the later part of the nineteenth century, many Jewish immigrants fled their countries primarily to escape religious persecutions. Some of them got lost because of the influence of the American culture, and took in all the American customs no matter that was good or not. And others managed to tell right from wrong and still hold to the advantage of their tradition.


In the story of “The Americanization of Shadrach Cohen”, Bruno Lessing told about some affairs happened to Shadrach Cohen which led to his changes. Because of their having enough money, the two sons can easily be accepted and affected by the American culture. The story mainly told about things happened after the father moved to American. Father changed to adapt himself to the American life though he rejected to do this first. So, what is the difference between the Americanization of Shadrach Cohen and that of his two sons?


Here is a brief description of Shadrach’s first appearance at the port: “(Shadrach Cohen) wore a gabardine-the loose, baglike garment of the Russian Ghetto-and had a long, straggling grey beard and ringlets that came down over his ears-that, in short, he was a perfect type of the immigrant. (P46)” So, we can conclude that he was possibly an honest and simple-hearted man. And we can easily guess that the two sons also had appearance like this before the came to America. After their Americanization, the sons became “dapper-looking young man (P46)” and “wore a flaring necktie with a diamond in it (P46)”, while Shadrach looked like “a pale-faced clerk (P49)”. We can realize that it is hard to tell the difference of appearance between the sons’ Americanization and that of Shadrach’s.


However, the main differences lie on the different things they absorbed from the influence of American culture.


According to this story, I think the most obvious diverse part in their Americanization is their different attitude to people. Sons felt dismay at their first meet with the father because “he was a perfect type of the immigrant whose appearance they had so frequently ridiculed (P46)”, even though he was their father. Later, though the sons didn’t say anything about their father’s actions and decisions, their reactions showed they are unhappy as “(they) clinched their fists behind their backs (P46)” when father didn’t want to trim his beard to make him “more like an American (P46)”. And Gottlieb felt ashamed to let his father meet his girlfriend because his father’s actions and appearance didn’t like an American. So, we can see the sons became snobbish after their settlement. They didn’t know it’s necessary to learn to esteem others or at least not to look down upon others, especially people who were older than them such as their father. And what did the father do after his changes? There is only one detail showed his attitude: the young salesman treated Shadrach rudely and Shadrach told him that “Young man, whenever you address a person who is older than you, do it respectfully. Honor your father and mother. (P49) ” It shows that Shadrach hold the opinion of treating people equally and respecting old people.


The other different thing is their different attitude to tradition.  No matter before of after his Americanization, Shadrach always insisted on prayer after meals. When Shadrach asked to do the prayer, however, the sons didn’t do it and Abel said: “We-er- have grown out of-er-that is-er-done away with-er-sort of fallen into the habit, don’t you know, of leaving out the prayer at meals. It’s not quit American! (P47)” Then Shadrach told them the importance of religion. “It is wrong to omit the prayer after meals. It is part of your religion. I do not know anything about this American or its customs. But religion is the worship of Jehovah, who has chosen us as His children… (P47)” From this we can conclude that Shadrach still hold on to the tradition no matter he was a Russian or liked an American compared with his sons’ forgetting prayer after meals.


Another different part is things they learned from American life. After his Americanization, Shadrach quickly took in the advantage of American custom and “The charm of American life, of liberty, of democracy, appealed to him strongly. (P50)” Meanwhile, Shadrach managed to organize the business well. Then, what did the sons learn from American life? We can see from Shadrach’s words-“You have both been making as a complete a mess of this business as you could without ruining it. What you both lack is sense. If becoming Americanization means becoming stupid. I must congratulate you upon the thoroughness of your work… (P49) ” That is, Abel and Gottlieb nearly hadn’t learn anything good from American life, though they had settled down from several years.

21.6.07 02:57

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