Mattie Vs Etta Mae Essay, Research Paper
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor is a classic novel highlighting the struggles of inner-city women. As they live and work, the reader is exposed to the hardships these women have faced over their stay on Brewster. Many characters are similar and connected in some ways, but none are so like Mattie Michael and Etta Mae Johnson. They are so similar but yet so different at the same time. Friends since their younger days on Brewster Place, these two women led two opposite lives that led them away from Brewster Place and each other and back.
Mattie Michael was quiet and sheltered as a young woman. Her father s sheltering stronghold was just the thing that changed Mattie s life. A slick young fellow by the name of Butch Fuller was infamous on Brewster for loving and leaving women. He left her with a son that tore Mattie s family apart and sent her away from home eventually settling with an old woman known only by Miss Eva. Mattie spoiled her son, Basil, rotten. Any little smile or whine was enough to get Mattie to cave into his selfish wishes. Mattie s extraordinary love, comfort, and care backfire when Basil skipped bail and left Mattie with no place to live and no place to go except Brewster Place.
Etta Mae Johnson was a fast woman living the fast life. She was a child from Rock Vale, Tennessee who decided to get out and find a man that could support her and show her the good life. This was known to the residents of Brewster and upon her return she was greeted with the same whispering and lack of respect that she had come to call common with respect to the people s attitude towards her. Despite how she may seem on the outside, as a woman moving from city to city, chasing man after man, Etta Mae does
not want that life. She is representative of the days when a woman believed that she could attract a man that would make her a queen and elevate her to the status of the upscale women living luxuriously.
Mattie and Etta Mae shared a similar circumstance that led them back to Brewster Place. Both had problems with no-good men who eventually put them back on the street with only the walled-off, dead end street to look to. For Mattie, it was Basil, and for Etta Mae, it was her latest boyfriend. However, the way that they took this was just the opposite. Mattie became mother to the people on Brewster. She was a strong woman who didn t need a man and held her head high even still. Etta Mae however, still holding strong to her dream, pursued a prominent minister who left her with nothing more than the soap and matchbook from the local motel.
Etta Mae Johnson and Mattie Michael took two distinct roads that both led to Brewster Place. Mattie s dream, to have somebody to always need her, resulted in a spoiled and troubled son who left her high and dry when she needed him most. Etta Mae s dream of a man that would sweep her off her feet left her vulnerable to anyone that could show her a good time. However they shared a common bond of support, Etta Mae wanted it, and Mattie had to give it. The resulting combination spawned a lasting friendship, undoubtedly the strongest relationship depicted on Brewster Place.