Since the early Italian American experience is largely polarized between the worlds of labor and the family, consequently, the role of class and gender are not easily avoided in Italian American literature. In the memoir Rosa, the Life of an Italian Immigrant, and Pietro DiDonato's Christ in Concrete, these two worlds help to compliment one another and reveal much about how the other operates. The hierarchies and demands that class differences place upon Italian immigrants do much to show the workings of gender in the community during the late nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth.
[...] His death puts the family off balance and he tries to become a man in order to restore not only the economic harmony of his world, but the gendered one as well. Before then, Paul is a hobbyist, building a radio for his father before his death. Afterwards, to comfort his grieving mother, Paul tells her, “Mamma do not cry I-I-I shall be the father” (49). This means he must go and work. As he works, he comes to understand what it means to be a in this community. [...]
[...] She observes that boys and girls interacting in the public sphere, “were like the rich and the poor together the boy is higher than the girl" (86). When Rosa begins to hit puberty, her femininity is something to be covered up. Mamma Lena sends her away to a convent, where she is isolated from gender and class differences. Here, the sisters of the convent are described as "mother and father" to the girls (90). Here there is no public sphere to be involved with, and no men. [...]
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