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The Women of Brewster Place

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas 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”