An American in the Making: The Life Story of an Immigrant

By M. E. Ravage; Steven G. Kellman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Purifications

No doubt this was proper pride, but in the month and a half that followed I often had good reason to feel that the price I was made to pay for it was a trifle extortionate. I had come to New York in search of riches and adventure. Well, now, here at least was adventure a-plenty, even if the riches were a bit scarce. To be sure, the adventures I had most craved were of quite another sort. But, having neglected to specify in advance, it was not my place to complain against Destiny when she chose to put the broad interpretation on my order and supplied me with an ample stock of all the varieties in her shop. All the same, I could not for the life of me see any fun in the thing, not, at any rate, while it lasted. Think of me as devoid of imagination all you please, the fact remains that, with the best intentions in the world, I never succeeded in tapping the romance of my experiences. Going without meals two-thirds of the time was just as dull as it could be; tramping through the slushy, wind-swept streets while the rest of the world snuggled and snored under its warm covers was monstrously nasty; and the callousness, the indifference, the smugness of employers and acquaintances alike were both dull and nasty, and soul-destroying to boot. No, I got precious little poetry out of my adventures. Wisdom, perhaps—of the toughening kind. By the time my trials were over I had ceased to be a boy. I had become a man, with the disillusionment, the wiliness, and, I fear, the cynicism of a man.

I had thought that that first week preceding my peddling ventures had exhausted all America’s possibilities of hardship and disheartening failure. But that was because I was a greenhorn, unversed in the ways of Columbus’s land. It was only now that I was to get my American baptism—that cleansing of the spirit by suffering which everyone of us immigrants must pass through to prove himself worthy of his adoption. The population of Little Rumania was made up of two classes, the greens and the yellows. They were not stationary castes; every yellow had once been a green, and every green was striving and hoping to

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An American in the Making: The Life Story of an Immigrant
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Chronology ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • A Note on the Text xxxiii
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • Part One - The Alien at Home 11
  • Chapter I - The Prophet from America 13
  • Chapter II - The Gospel of New York 20
  • Chapter III - The Exodus 27
  • Chapter IV - To America on Foot 31
  • Chapter V - Farewell Forever 38
  • Part Two - The Alien Abroad 45
  • Chapter VI - First Impressions 47
  • Chapter VII - The Immigrant’s America 53
  • Chapter VIII - "How Do You like America?" 58
  • Chapter IX - Ventures and Adventures 66
  • Chapter X - Purifications 78
  • Chapter XI - The Ethics of the Bar 86
  • Part Three - The Education of an American 93
  • Chapter XII - Shirts and Philosophy 95
  • Chapter XIII - The Soul of the Ghetto 104
  • Chapter XIV - The Tragedy of Readjustment 110
  • Chapter XV - The Trials of Scholarship 118
  • Chapter XVI - Off to College 126
  • Part Four - America of the Americans 133
  • Chapter XVII - In the Mold 135
  • Chapter XVIII - The American as He Is 143
  • Chapter XIX - The Fruits of Solitude 151
  • Chapter XX - Harvey 159
  • Chapter XXI - The Romance of Readjustment 168
  • Part Five - Postscript- Twenty Years Later 175
  • Chapter XXII - Jeanne’s Sentimental Pilgrimage 177
  • Chapter XXIII - And My Own 189
  • About the Editor 213
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