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Ann Petry’s The Street Essay

1313 words - 5 pages

Ann Petry’s The Street

In our society of today, there are many images that are portrayed through media and through personal experience that speak to the issues of black motherhood, marriage and the black family. Wherever one turns, there is the image of the black woman in the projects and very rarely the image of successful black women. Even when these positive images are portrayed, it is almost in a manner that speaks to the supposed inferiority of black women. Women, black women in particular, are placed into a society that marginalizes and controls many of the aspects of a black woman’s life. As a result, many black women do not see a source of opportunity, a way to escape the drudgery of their everyday existence. For example, if we were to ask black mother’s if they would change their situation if it became possible for them to do so, many would change, but others would say that it is not possible; This answer would be the result of living in a society that has conditioned black women to accept their lots in lives instead of fighting against the system of white and male dominated supremacy. In Ann Petry’s The Street, we are given a view of a black mother who is struggling to escape what the street symbolizes. In the end though, she becomes captive to the very thing she wishes to escape. Petry presents black motherhood, marriage and the black family as things that are marginalized according to the society in which they take place.

The main image that Petry gives of the black mother is Lutie, though there are other images that are crucial in explaining this image. Lutie is a single black mother living on “the street.” Her world revolves around providing for her son, and trying to make sure that they are both able to survive in this corner of the world that they have been placed in. Throughout this characterization of Lutie and the life that she and her son lead, Petry presents black motherhood as a struggle. Every morning, Lutie has to wake up and prepare her son for school while she prepares for a long and tiring day at work. Every night that she comes home, she has to fix dinner, put her son to bed, and then go to bed herself because she has to wake up early in the morning. Throughout this entire process, Lutie has almost no time for herself. She has no one to help her along. Thus, Petry also presents black motherhood as an intense place of prolonged stress and loneliness. With no one to help take care of household duties and to help her to raise and look after her child, Lutie is alone and desperate, seeking relief where there appears to be none. In motherhood, Petry presents the black mother as a beacon of strength. Regardless of everything, and how she may personally feel, Lutie continues to make sure that her child is taken care of and she goes to work even when she does not want to just so she can keep him on the right path and provide at least a symbol of normality in the house. Lutie has to remain...

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