Does "The Lost Beautifulness" (by Anzia Yezierska) give you sympathy for any of the characters?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Reading Anzia Yezierska's "The Lost Beautifulness" can bring about sympathy on the part of the reader. The story, of a mother who loves her son more than anything, can pull at the heart-strings (especially those of mothers). Sympathy for Hannah Hayyeh and her son seems immediate. 

In the opening paragraph, Hannah glances at a picture of her son, "full of worship and adoration." She mentions that the only reason she has painted her kitchen is to insure that Aby (her son) will not be ashamed to invite his "grandest friends" from the army. Later, Hannah paints a picture of her son (to be able to remember him always).

While the story tells of the lengths a mother will go through for her son, the ending brings about the most heart-wrenching moments. Hannah's rent is raised twice. Upon the first time, Hannah does without meat and milk.The second time, she realizes there is nothing more she can give up. Out of rage, Hannah destroys her home with an axe. Upon regaining her senses, Hannah realizes that she has figuratively killed herself (Aby has nothing to come home to).

In the very end, Aby returns home (with many medals of which he knows his mother will be proud). He finds his mother, "huddled, cowering, broken," and her things in the gutter by their house.

Given the lengths which Hannah went through to make her home "beautifulness" for Aby, one can really sympathize with her pain and actions. Essentially, readers know that she would give up everything for her son. Sadly, she was required to do just that.

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