Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 167

The Promised Land is an autobiography by author and activist Mary Antin. The book's overall theme is of the opportunities that the United States has to offer to new immigrants. The book contextualizes this thesis by detailing Antin's early childhood in the "Old World."

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She recounted the limitations placed on Jews in Czarist Russia—discriminatory housing practices, the creation of ethnic ghettos, limited work opportunities, etc.—and she also showed the limitations placed on women by her own Orthodox Jewish community.

However, when her family immigrated to Boston, these limitations were more or less vanquished. The autobiography also detailed her relations with other immigrant youth growing up, remarking on their diversity. This reiterated her view that America is a land of democratic ideals and economic and social opportunities, or what might be called the American Dream.

The only flaw in Antin's thesis is that this perspective is narrow. For instance, during much of the 20th century, Jews and women were still discriminated against, especially in the workplace.

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