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Ewen's Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars Essay

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Ewen's Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars Throughout history, the concept of Americanization has been studied in order to better understand the effects of a mass culture on immigrants. On one side stands the view of an immigrant engulfed in American ideology who leaves behind his past. He conforms to this new individualism and now is able to move upward on the economic ladder. On the opposite end of defining Americanization is the unscathed immigrant who maintains his old word traditions and institutions to emerge victoriously despite unfavorable conditions. His ethnicity solidifies his success by creating affinity bonds and social patterns to aid in the struggle for a decent life. Though both these views are extreme, they both contain significant aspects which form a more accurate perspective of how immigrants assimilated into the "emerging industrial and consumer society" (Ewen, 15). These immigrants did not give up their nationality completely, even as they adopted American ideals in order to survive within the new but unfamiliar consumer culture. This cultural coalescence brought about major changes, which women had most of the burden of assimilating during the 19th century. The unrelenting and brave women described by Ewen in "Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars" demonstrated an amazing ability to retain many of their traditions while still accommodating American ideals and culture in their social events, employment, and home life.

For many immigrant families, social events were the only way...


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... instilled in their daughters the value of an orderly and pleasant house.
Despite the desperate attempts to Americanize immigrants, the first and second generations did not let go of all of their traditional ideals and beliefs. Even so, they did not continue unscathed by the process. However, these ideals from the Old Country helped them "meet the challenge" (Ewen, 266). This culture became a mutual protection for immigrants against the scarcity and struggle of tenement life. It also provided a bond for the community and was the foundation for their survival. As the years passed, immigrants eventually succumbed to American ideals, but they have not totally given up their culture now that they are considered Americans. Even so, one can look back on this period and see the significant struggle that women had between customary ideas and the assurance of modernity.


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