(Introduction): Throughout her novel, The Women of Brewster Place, Ms. Naylor emphasizes the importance of sister hood by showing how the women are strengthened by their relationships with one another and proving that men are not necessary to their survival or happiness. Thesis: The strengthening of women through other women is illustrated by Mattie’s role as a daughter to Miss Eva, a sister to Etta Mae, and a mother to Lucielia.PARA 2: Miss Eva Turner plays a vital role in Mattie’s life by taking her in during her loneliness and destitution and treating Mattie and Basil as if they are her own family.PARA 3: The sisterhood between Mattie and Etta Mae is illustrated by each woman’s willingness to help the other in through their most trying times.
PARA 4: ConclusionGloria Naylor’s book, The Women of Brewster Place, focuses on seven black female residents of Brewster Place. As they cope with living in a racist and sexist society, they encounter further abuse from their own husbands, lovers, and children. Mattie Michael brings love and special attention to the lives of Ms. Eva, Etta Mae, and Luceilia. “She becomes the anchor for these women of Brewster Place” (Gottlieb p.1483). “Mattie Michael has lost her home to her much loved, but errant son, but becomes the backbone of this community of women”(Aull, 2).
Each woman learned to grow stronger emotionally, to lean more towards sister hood, and to strive for self-improvement. Mattie is a second mother figure to Lucielia. Mattie replaced Ms. Eva. Ever since Lucielia moved to Brewster Place, Mattie showed concern for her in a motherly fashion.
Abandoned by her man in a time of suffering, Lucielia gains determination to survive her time of tribulation. The death of Lucielia’s daughter was devastating to her. After the death of her daughter, Lucielia gave up the will to live until Mattie’s intervention. Lucielia was literally dying of grief and rage. “It is Mattie’s intervention and her ability to place Lucielia’s grief in a historical context and to know it as one more instance of “murdered dreams” in a long history of such murders that undergirds her life saving and healing intervention” (Aull, 2) Mattie healed and renewed Lucielia physically and mentally. “Mattie magnificently wrestles Ciel, dying of grief, back to life” (Gottlieb p.
1484). Mattie took on the role of a mother when she nursed Lucielia back to health. Mattie treated and nursed Lucielia “as if handling a newborn”(Naylor, 104). Mattie’s relationship with Basil teaches her valuable lessons that help her to be a more effective mother figure to Lucielia. Mattie’s mistake with Basil is she used him to fill a void. She loved the fact that he was solely dependent on her. “My Bed hasn’t been empty since Basil was born” (38).
Mattie spoiled Basil to the point he would always have to have his way. He knew his mother would always be there for him. Because of that, he took advantage of her. It was hard for Mattie to watch the turmoil and sadness Lucielia had to encounter in her love life. It was like watching her child suffer.
However, Mattie wasn’t going to make the same mistake she made with Basil. Mattie let Lucielia take control of her own life. She never told her what to do. She just listened and gave her support her.
Lucielia questioned Mattie’s approval of her. Mattie shot back a loving but uninvolved answer, “It’s your life, honey” (91). When Basil was in trouble with the law, Mattie did everything she possibly could to help him.
“Mattie mortgaged her home to pay his bail only to be betrayed by her beloved son, who jumps bail and skips town, leaving g his mother heartbroken and destitute” (Hairston 1484). Miss Eva Turner plays a vital role in Mattie’s life by taking her in during her loneliness and destitution and treating Mattie and Basil as if they are a part of her own family. When Mattie first meets Miss Eva, she and her son are homeless and Mattie is at the end of her rope. Mattie, a single young mother, had been living alone with her son in a boarding home and working a minimum wage job to make ends meet. When she wakes up one night to find Basil, her son, crying and bleeding from a rat bite, Mattie leaves the run down apartment with her son and all her belongings, determined to find somewhere permissible to live. Mattie comes across Miss Eva just as she is deciding to give up her search and take a bus back home to her parents. In her disarray she circles Miss Eva’s block twice and is startled when Miss Eva calls out asking “Where is she heading with that pretty red baby” (Naylor, 30).
Miss Eva shows concern for Mattie even in the very first moments of their time together. She is able to read the confusion and weariness in young Mattie’s face and she immediately offers her assistance. Mattie is somewhat startled by Miss Eva’s appearance and forwardness. Miss Eva is an old woman with European features, yellow skin with watery blue eyes, but she speaks with a black voice. Her many inquiries about Mattie’s circumstance cause Mattie to ponder the woman’s intentions and she acts rather awkward towards her. However Miss Eva, underneath her overbearing manner, is kindhearted and generous and she recognizes Mattie’s present need. Miss Eva “looks at the way Mattie holds her child and she understands” (3). The old woman realizes that Mattie is young, alone, and at that moment, homeless.
She reaches out to Mattie and eventually extends to her an invitation to stay in her home for the night. Mattie accepts the invitation and immediately Miss Eva’s motherly treatment of Mattie and Basil begins. As they are entering the house Miss Eva takes Basil from Mattie and “coos and talks to the baby and Mattie as if she has known them for years” (32). The entire night she refers to Mattie as “child” and handles the Baby as if he were one of her own. She prepares a home cooked meal of pot roast, oven-browned potatoes, and string beans for Mattie and she insists on feeding the baby while Mattie enjoys the meal. Miss Eva offers to let Mattie live in her home for as long as she likes for no charge and she willingly accepts the company of Basil for her granddaughter.
Mattie, who has grown to be untrusting because of her past experiences, eventually finds herself opening up to this woman whom she just met. Miss Eva’s compassion is a sudden relief that comes just in time for Mattie. For the first time in a several months Mattie is not alone and she has someone with whom she can share her life, her thoughts, and her struggles. Miss Eva too is pleased by the newfound companionship and together the women begin to reveal their lives to one another. “In the abashed fashion of the old, Miss Eva unfolded her own life to Mattie, and without realizing she was being questioned, Mattie found herself talking about things that she had buried within in her.
The young black women and the old yellow woman sat in the kitchen talking for hours, blending their lives so that what lay behind one and ahead of the other became indistinguishable” (34)In the short time that the women spend together that night, they form a lasting bond that is superior that of any friendship. In the time that follows Mattie grows to accept and love Miss Eva as a mother figure to her and her son.