Zaborowska contends that the Americans misunderstood the sexual behavior of those immigrant women:
In the same degree, the distinction between the old American families and the new rising American families is emphasized in Main Street. For example, Percy Bresnahan claims that the new business families are the ones who manage Boston and not those “old” rich families (288). It seems that the new families are detested by the old families not only because they threaten the old values but also for being more prosperous.
Even the girls who live in that house are mostly foreigners of “a German or Scandinavian type” (46)
It is noticeable that foreigners or immigrants are portrayed in two different ways: the first is rather sinister, namely to emphasize that they pose a threat, while the second mocks them, making fun of them and their accents. In An American Tragedy, the protagonist, Clyde, working in the Green Davidson hotel, meets non-American bellhops who are perceived as a moral threat online payday loans Virginia. Hegglund, Ratterer, Doyle, Paul Shiel, Davis Higby, and Arthur Kinsella are characterized by lavishness, libertinage, and immoralities totally “foreign” to Clyde (38). e. xenoi. Their unfamiliar uses of the English language and their various forms of pronunciation show the differences of the “types” among the characters in the novel. Dragging Clyde into a “bad house” where he is confronted by “bacchanalian scenes” (43), these foreign youngsters directly contribute to Clyde’s destruction.
In due course, Clyde combines xenophobia with racism differentiating the foreign girls from the American ones, which makes it quite clear that they are not only morally but also physically different: the foreign girls are characterized by “fat hands,” “broad faces,” and “heavy legs and ankles” (racism). Some speak with a foreign accent “being Poles or the children of Poles,” and “they were all concerned with catching a “feller,” going to some dancing place with him afterwards, and little more” (xenophobia). Foreigners in general are recurrently portrayed as a peril to the American moral code. Foreign girls working at the factory are labeled as “pagan,” “savage,” and “ignorant.” These girls, as Clyde can sense, have no qualms regarding sex. Evaluating their behavior, he has no doubt that they will let him “have his way with them somewhere, and think nothing of it afterward if he chose to ignore them” (164).
As a rule, American girls do not work in factories unless they have a good reason. Hence, when Roberta Alden seeks employment with Griffiths and Company, the narrator provides an explanation: her poverty (167). Although Roberta believes that this type of work is beneath her, she does it because she is in great need of money to help her family. Venus Green, a historian, concludes that unlike for the immigrants, working in a factory was considered a devaluation and a degradation to the “white lady” (Green, 2001 , p. 134). The theme of immigrant women working in a factory is recurrent both in Main Street (1920) and An American Tragedy (1925). Magdalena Zaborowska justifies the negative image of the East European immigrant woman in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as perceived by native-born Americans, according to which the former is typically shameless, ill-mannered, vulgar, and “loose.” Her upbringing is of a “different morality and alien sexual conduct” (Zaborowska, 1995 , p. 46).
What the host culture took for signs of promiscuity and lack of restraint in ethnic women were usually traditional ways of sexual conduct. Many peasant women, for example, who became factory workers in America were very open about their sexuality because they had grown up in close quarters and in big families where a girl was witness to nudity, sex, and birth from her earliest years (Zaborowska, 1995 , p. 46).