Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the poor whom she condemns for life to a social class lower than
h e r own. Thus , ou t o f the sunless squalor o f the Lower East Side,
Yezierska’s women build the ir lives, reaching for independence,
reciprocated love and altruism.
ANOTHER OUTLOOK
E.M. B roner’s American Jewish female experience is very d if­
feren t from Yezierska’s. Born in Detroit in 1930 to a fa the r who
was a journalist and Jewish historian and a mo ther who had acted
in the Yiddish thea te r in Poland, she is some fifty years and an
imm igration-generation later. H er experience has been tha t o f a
woman who has found success both as an au tho r and as a p ro fes­
sor at Wayne State University.6
In marked contrast to the women in Yezierska’s books are those
in the writings o f E.M. Broner. B roner is an innovative writer — a
writer who experiments with form. She seeks to find the best
medium for portraying the range o f characters she presents to us.
The wealth o f material, o f d ifferen t forms and o f multiple central
characters is very d ifferen t from Yezierska’s endless repetition o f
quasi-autobiographical material. B roner’s women are a diverse
group, but most o f them share a positive image based on ind e ­
pendence and intelligence. B roner’s writings p resen t the bonds
between women and among them as much stronger than the
bonds between women and men. H er women include a broad
spectrum o f age and interest. They are, by and large, capable and
complex human beings.
One o f the most interesting o f these women is Baba, the dying
matriarch of the verse-play
Summer Is a Foreign Land
(1966). Baba
is, in fact, the only truly matriarchal figure in B roner’s writings
and, as such, provides the reade r with a number o f interesting
insights into female characters in general. Baba presides over a
family consisting o f three daughters, two sons-in-law, and fou r
grandchildren , one o f whom is a doctor. Although she is now
undergoing the wasting o f age, she was once, in both sta ture and
physical strength , a formidable person. H e r experiences as a
6 Biographical material on E.M. (Esther Masserman) Broner can be found in
Cathy N. Davidson, “E.M. Broner,”
American Women Writers,
ed. by Lina
Mainiero (N.Y.: Ungar, 1979), vol. I, pp. 239-240.