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The Value of Worthless LivesWriting Italian American Immigrant Autobiographies$
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Ilaria Serra

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226788

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226788.001.0001

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Toward Success

Toward Success

(p.132) 6 Toward Success
The Value of Worthless Lives

Ilaria Serra

Fordham University Press

The writers of the autobiographies in this last chapter have achieved success as doctors, professors, or business people, so they belong to a different social class than the rest of the immigrant autobiographers. All share the work ethic that defined earlier groups of Italian immigrants, but because of intelligence, luck, perseverance, or an indescribable mix of those and other qualities, they have gone on to varying degrees of what we would consider to be success—social, educational, and economic. They view the United States as a land of opportunity, but their standards and their achievements were on a different level from those of the average workers. The autobiographers in this chapter are the ones who are most aware of the tensions between the Italian self and the American society that will become the main topic for many Italian/American writers of second generation.

Keywords:   Italian immigrants, success, autobiographies, work ethic, United States, writing, education, self

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