Women of Courage: Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York

By Rose Laub Coser; Laura S. Anker et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter Six
Home Life

My husband had very little time and I had to do all the bringing up, like most of the mothers of that particular time. . . . The fathers came home, tired at night, late. And then he had one day! And how much can he do for them, really?

Rose Bregman

The Jewish people, every one of them, the husbands help [the wife] with the cooking, the shopping. They do together, they do a lot of things. And then they eat a lot of times out. They don't cook much. . . . They got the woman to clean the house and they holler on me: "Why do you do that? Why don't you get somebody?

Donna Cassado

Everyday life for immigrant women consisted largely of drudgery and monotony. Still, the trivialities of everyday life tell a story of pain as well as of ennui, stories of happiness and hope amongst accounts of misery. What did the women talk about with their husbands?

[Nothing much] unless certain things came up I had to tell him. . . . I was always busy: washing the dishes or preparing things for the next day. And when the time came, we used to sit down and have a glass of tea together at night. ( Maxine Blank)

Home life for women differs in tone, but not so much in substance between the two cultures. Whether Jewish or Italian, women are in charge of drudgery. When asked what they do at night they tell us that they prepare work for the next day: iron the kids' clothes, clean up the kitchen while their husbands read the paper, listen to the radio, or go to sleep.

Yet amidst all this monotony there emerge certain themes: the husbands' lack of involvement in matters of household, the wives' readiness to "take charge

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