Commentary Magazine

Article Preview

From the American Scene:

- Abstract

When you come down to it, there was a consistent pattern in Papa’s life. It was a kind of rugged, stubborn independence, a lonely intransigence. An embattled little man, he would be beholden to no one; he would be taken in by no one. This was at once his strength and his weakness. It was what kept him from being a success in the new land. He wouldn’t even let the process of adjusting to the new country whittle down his freedom and independence. To the very end he had a deep distrust of the elaborate techniques of living in America. He marshaled all of his considerable intelligence to hold the new at arm’s length. He was always a child about business, some deep instinct warning him that it was corrupt and enslaving. A baker, he had a strong pride in his status as a workingman—he used just that term with its suggestion of dignity and flavor of the Knights of Labor —but he was suspicious of trade union bureaucrats. The nicest thing he could say about someone was that he was an “honest workman,” and he saw the honest working-man beleaguered by a host of crooked politicians and untrustworthy trade union officials.

About the Author