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

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

CHAPTER XIV
The Tragedy of Readjustment

I myself was in the meantime moving in two separate worlds. Nominally, at least, my home was still in Little Rumania among my own respectable relatives from Vaslui. Time and again I resolved to find a lodging somewhere south of Grand Street, where the majority of my comrades in spirit lived and where all my interests lay. But I never did it. Of friction there was enough between us. They were very outspoken, were my kinsfolk, in their disapproval of me. They found fault with my impiety, my socialism (or anarchism—they did not know just which it was), my indifference to dress and the social proprieties, my ragamuffin argumentative associates. Mrs. Segal, who still attempted to hold a protecting wing over me, took me to task often for not dropping in to her Sunday afternoon “at homes,” which were the rendezvous of the gilded youth of our home town, and especially for neglecting to assist at the betrothal-party of her oldest daughter. Others of my blood observed that despite my aptness in picking up English, I was unpardonably slow in getting Americanized and doing nothing toward becoming a doctor. I was making quite a lot of money, too, but not only did I send very little of it home, I did not even have a bank account. Cousin Aby, who, though he was still making shirt-collars, had never become a radical, kept eternally at me for smoking on the Sabbath instead of going to the services. I, for my part, had my own opinions of their superficial Americanism, their indifference to the seething intellectual life about them, their blindness to the fine merits of the labor cause, and missed no opportunity to express my views. And yet some curious bond held us together. I had a strange feeling that I would miss them, that I would feel lonely without them, and I knew that they would take it as the final insult if I were to draw away from them altogether.

These strained relations with my Old World kin, as well as the tragic experiences of my fellow-radicals, often made me pause and wonder how I should get on with my own parents if I were ever to succeed in bringing them over. Father, to be sure, was not, as I remembered, what

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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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