by Anzia Yezierska
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
The New Colossus
- Emma Lazarus
“The New Colossus” is a poem by Emma Lazarus that was published in 1883. It describes the millions of immigrants who came to America through the port of New York City at Ellis Island.Pair “The New Colossus” with “America and I” and ask students to discuss the relationship between immigration and the United States. Consider the hope the poem instills in the incoming immigrants.
- Claude McKay
Claude McKay was a civil rights activist and Jamaican American writer. In “On Broadway” (1922), a speaker longingly looks at a bright city scene from which he feels isolated.Pair "On Broadway" with "America and I" and ask students to analyze how the theme of exclusion develops in each work. What conclusions can we draw about America's history after reading these texts?
American Dream Faces Harsh New Reality
- Ari Shapiro
This article from three years after the economic recession reports on the American Dream and the dwindling faith in it.Pair “American Dream Faces Harsh New Reality” with “America and I” and ask students to discuss the concept of the American Dream. Are there any differences between the American Dream described in this article versus Yezierska’s experience?
- Joaquin Miller
A rousing poem celebrating Columbus’s perseverance even when success was far from certain.Pair these two ‘coming-to-America’ stories and have students think about what makes America unique. Students may also be interested to compare the statement that the narrator of “America and I” makes, “I felt like a Columbus, finding new worlds through every new word,” with Miller’s phrase “he gained a world” (Line 39). What does it mean to find a new world, even if you are not its first discoverer?
The Rush of Immigrants
This informational text describes the tide of new immigrants to the United States from southern and eastern Europe and Asia from the mid-1800s to the 1920s, detailing the struggle they faced due to cultural differences and racism.Pair “The Rush of Immigrants” with “America and I” and ask students to discuss the difficulties of living the American Dream for new immigrants to America.
- Barbara Radner
“Traveling West” describes the nature of American pioneers’ expeditions westward during the 19th century.Pair “Traveling West” with “America and I” and ask students to think about how the two texts differ in the way they frame the American dream. How is the story of the first pioneers to travel to the west similar and different from the story of immigrants arriving at America? Did those people share any of the same challenges? Were they motivated to travel by the same factors?
Klondike Gold Rush
The informational text “Klondike Gold Rush” discusses the vast number of miners who traveled to Yukon in 1897, hoping to find gold.Pair “America and I” with “Klondike Gold Rush” and ask students to discuss how both texts explore the American Dream. How do the expectations of the speaker in “America and I” compare to the expectations of miners in “Klondike Gold Rush?” Why do students think people formed these expectations and were then unable to fulfill them?
Puerto Rican Obituary
- Pedro Pietri
In Pedro Pietri’s epic poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” Pietri describes the experiences of five Puerto Ricans in America.Pair “America and I” with “Puerto Rican Obituary” and ask students to discuss how both texts describe America. How does the dream of America compare to the reality? According to the texts, who is allowed to succeed in America and how are certain identities kept from succeeding?
- Joseph O. Legaspi
In Joseph O. Legaspi’s poem “Amphibians,” a speaker uses an extended metaphor to compare immigrants and amphibians.Pair “America and I” with “Amphibians” and ask students to discuss how both texts describe immigrating to America. How do both texts explore the obstacles that immigrants encounter? How does the narrator in “America and I” experience a transformation, and how does it compare to the transformation of the immigrants in “Amphibians”? Do you think she anticipated having to make that transformation? Why or why not?
Immigration to the United States
- Michael A. Signal
In the informational text “Immigration to the United States,” Michael A. Signal discusses the long history of people traveling to America in order to make a new life for themselves.Pair “America and I” with “Immigration to the United States” and ask students to discuss why immigrants decide to move to America. What brought Anzia Yezierska to America? How did her experiences in America compare to her expectations? How do the two texts examine how immigrants have been made to feel unwelcome in the United States?