Sunday, June 18, 2006

Response to "From Lithuania to the Chicago Stockyards, 1904"

Megan W.
Response #5

Pull & Push Factors

Antanas Kaztauskis reveals some of the pros and cons that immigrants would
formulate before choosing to immigrate to the US. Push factors were reasons that pushed forward ones decision to come to the new world. The pull factors were the reasons that would pulld one away from wanting to immigrate. For example, in the interview with Kaztauskis push factors such as poor living and working conditions are stressed. His family was aware that the life of an immigrant was a tough way of life, "If you are sick or old there and have no money you will die." (Paragraph 15)

It was hard to focus on the cons when the hopes of freedom were so high. These pull factors were very significant, especially for A.K. and family. In the memory discussed in the interview, his father stressed the high value that his son must hold these beliefs. He says, "We know these are true things-- that all men are born free and equal -- that God gives them rights which no man can take away -- that among these rights are life, liberty and the getting of happiness," then repeats, "life, liberty and the getting of happiness. Oh, that is what you want." (Paragraph 18)

Female/Gender Roles
A.K.'s mother is described as an emotional wreck when her husband first spoke of their son immigrating to America. This must have been an understandable, natural reaction of a mother at this time. There were no telephones and mail was unreliable at best. So, for mothers it could very well be the last time they ever see their own sons. Even if they decided to later immigrate, locating loved ones was not an easy task. Also notice that the opinions and interests of both his mother and his lover are not even considered in the matter of Antanas going overseas.

Patterns of Settlement/Adjustment

It was clear that families sent their young men to America before they sent anyone else. The narrator goes to America without any concrete information on what he was to do once he got there except to hope that those who he is supposed to meet and stay with are still alive and well. The adjustment to American life is harsh. The living conditions are cramped and the working days are long. These men, raised in cultures that put high value on the strong family unit, are emotionally exhausted as they are physically. While not fatal, homesickness caused depression among immigrants.


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