The Immigrant Family: Chicago Haggadah (1879)

Here the generation gap between East European immigrants to the U.S.A. and their assimilated wicked son is foremost. Having adopted new-fangled American ways, the son smokes, dresses in black clothes with a modish cut and dances on his tilted chair. He takes the initiative in attacking his parents with an accusatory finger as if to say derisively, "What is this ritual for you?" The simple and the silent children, distinguished only by their hand motions, are mesmerized by the wicked son who sits at the head of the table holding forth. The other three figures mother, bearded father and wise child with kippah are dressed traditionally in pale white. Their body language bespeaks paralysis, passivity and lack of communication. The conversation is dominated by the three children in black, all with uncovered heads and backs turned. The family is divided culturally and generationally. Only the wise child identifies with the old ways.

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