1. If she had seen Ben, nothing would have made her believe that
practically every apartment contained a family, a Bible, and a dream that
one day enough could be scraped from those meager Friday night paychecks to
make Brewster Place a distant memory.
The third-person narrator of the novel expresses this thought in the
“Kiswana Browne” chapter, as Kiswana’s mother is approaching Brewster Place
for the first time. The thought exemplifies the combination of hope and
frustration that defines the lives of Brewster Place’s residents. Ben has
lived in Brewster Place longer that any other resident, and he is also the
first African-American to have lived in the community. As such, Ben, whose
life has deteriorated into a series of drunken stupors, embodies Brewster
Place’s deteriorated condition perhaps better than any other resident. His
story, like the story of Brewster Place, is more complicated than what is
evident on the surface. Despite his alcoholism, Ben is a decent man who has
endured more than his fair share of tragedy.