Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back to the City

Similar to the philosophy of Jane Jacob’s in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Morrison explains, “collectively [urban Blacks] have not contributed to the major decisions in founding or shaping the city” (Morrison 37). This is brought to life in Naylor’s novel, where Brewster place was created by city men for the wrong reason. We have seen how such an occurrence leads to the decomposition of the community through Jacobs, Naylor, and throughout communities in Baltimore. After generations of decay, Brewster place is inhabited with the characters we are introduced to.

In addition to the women of Brewster place, “Black people are generally viewed as patients, victims, wards, and pathologies in urban settings, not as participants” (Morrison 37). In some ways, the city does not belong to them. Morrison continues with, “the hospitals, schools, and buildings they lived in were not founded, nor constructed by their own people” (38). In light of this thought, one can see why housing projects are subjected to such fast rates of destruction. Although inhabitants have new appliances and homes, it never really feels like it is there own. As seen in The Women of Brewster Place, the community, at first, seems very disconnected and distant. The citizens have stopped complaining to their landlord about broken windows, holes in the walls, or the lack of heat, because nothing is ever fixed—they are helpless. They have lost any sense they have of the control of the physical surroundings in their lives.

Morrison writes, “what is missing in city fiction and present village fiction is the ancestor” (39). Although the technical aspect of the ancestor is not present, Mattie can be viewed as the “ancestor” of The Women of Brewster Place. With her wisdom, she is the maternal figure and role model throughout the community. With the help of Mattie’s maternal role in Brewster, Kiswana’s commitment to fix Brewster, and the death of Lorraine and everything she stood for, the relationships between individuals were strengthened and fused together. As a result, the united community was created with the volition to tear down the brick wall, to bring their close-knitted village back into the city.