Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 255
The Promised Land is the 1912 memoir of Belarussian-American writer Mary Antin. It chronicles her life from her childhood in Belarus to her immigration to the United States in the late 19th century.
The book opens with Antin describing, in a single sentence, the process of her growth from from a girl in Belarus to what she would later describe as her "Americanization." She remarks that:
I was born, I have lived, and I have been made over.
In her new home in Boston, Antin felt that she had boundless opportunities for her education and advancement that were not available to her in Europe. She recalled spending many days at the Boston Public Library reading room, Bates Hall, describing her time there poetically and affirming a sense of ownership as part of the pride of citizenship:
Did I not say it was my palace? Mine, because I was a citizen; mine, though I was born an alien; mine, though I lived on Dover Street. My palace—mine!
Despite the impoverished nature of her family's life in the United States, Antin recalled it with only pleasure.
I have never had a dull hour in my life; I have never had a livelier time than in the slums.
Antin ends her autobiography by affirming the obligations of citizenship and committing to see them out.
I am the youngest of America's children, and into my hands is given all her priceless heritage, to the last white star espied through the telescope, to the last great thought of the philosopher.
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