The Women of Brewster Place Essay

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Social change can be orchestrated in a variety of ways. Often it is easy for one to dismiss their own ability to instigate change when focused on the perceived leaders and influencers of the great social movements. There is a sense of insignificance and futility that an “ordinary” person can feel. In reality we all have a mechanism to affect social change in whatever capacity we can muster. It is important to understand our effect in the world and not to dismiss our own capabilities. For me there was a great deal of difficulty when reading the plights of the characters in “The Women of Brewster Place” to feel the same sense of social change inspiration that was felt with other readings in this semester’s coarse material. I found it very difficult to overlook the character flaws of the women introduced throughout the book and feel their value as any sort of “leader” or beneficial influence towards social change. But then to think of what social change really is, the betterment of the human condition, I began to realize the value of some of the women’s perseverance in the tragedy of their lives. Simply by not letting their circumstances define them and living to the best of their ability they influenced a better life for themselves and those around them. As the great Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”. The first character that I felt radiated that change about her was the apparent main character, Mattie Michael. She seemed a smart and very well intentioned lady and when circumstance handed her the short end of the stick, she kept going. Her perseverance reminded me of one of my favorite poems that I always held as a good measure of character, these words from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If: Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;
Mattie’s traits and actions reveal her to be a bit of a motherly figure to most of the women on Brewster Place. She...
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