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Key Facts

full title ·  The Women of Brewster Place

author · Gloria Naylor

type of work · Novel

genre · African-America novel

language · English

time and place written · Late twentieth century, cerca the 1980s, United States

date of first publication · 1982

publisher · Viking Penguin

narrator · Third-person omniscient narrator who explores the thoughts and actions of each character

point of view · The third-person omniscient narrative voice follows all the major characters of the novel, delving into their thoughts and histories in order to reveal their true nature.

tone · The narrative tone is a mixture of hopefulness and despair. At times it is sentimental and melodramatic.

tense · The narrative is told almost exclusively in the past tense, with occasional flashbacks.

setting (time) · The narrative spans several different decades depending upon the chapter. However, most of the events that occur take place over the course of approximately a few years in Brewster Place

setting (place) · The narrative takes place in an unnamed urban industrial city in the northern half of the United States.

protagonists · Mattie Michael, Etta Mae Johnson, Brewster Place, Cora Lee, Lucielia Turner, Kiswana Browne, Lorraine, Theresa

major conflict · The daily struggle to survive in Brewster Place is the central conflict.

rising action · A series of confrontations forms the central action in each chapter: Mattie’s escape from her parents’ home in the South; Etta’s encounter with Reverend Woods; Kiswana’s confrontation with her mother; and Lorraine’s decision to leave Theresa and attend a party by herself.

climax · Lorraine’s brutal gang rape in Brewster Place’s alley by C. C. Baker and his friends is the climax of the novel.

falling action · The falling action is found in Mattie’s dream of the upcoming block party following Lorraine’s rape and Ben’s death.

themes · The search for a home; the hopefulness of migration; the power of personal connections

motifs · Illegitimate births; flight; blending of lives

symbols · Brewster Place’s wall; sugar cane; color

foreshadowing · Eva Turner’s remarks to Mattie regarding her son Basil; Butch Fuller’s advice on eating sugar cane; the reference to Ben’s death at the start of “The Two”

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