Communities in “The Women of Brewster Place” and “Paradise”
It is true when it is said that, "All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in” (Online Newshour 1998). There is no perfect utopia, no place where pain doesn’t exist. The idea of paradise is just an idea because it is not reachable. No one lives in paradise and no one ever can because if they did, it wouldn’t be paradise anymore; just another world where ideas of how to make it perfect arise. The world moves forward and its inhabitants evolve; all people have their likes and their dislikes and that has somehow integrated with our feelings and preferences towards other people, even other races and genders. Surprisingly, though humanity has largely grown past the point of outwardly expressing it (most of the time), prejudice remains at the forefront of what is hidden in our minds. There were times however, when prejudice wasn’t hidden and intolerance was shared with as many as would hear. “Paradise” by Toni Morrison and “The Women of Brewster Place” are two such examples of the types of prejudice people faced. In “Paradise,” Toni Morrison writes about a town called Ruby that consisted of mainly African Americans. These folk believed that they were a strong community, but when things begin to become dire, the men turned their frustrations to a female community called, “The Convent” (Morrison 3). Another community having its own problems can be seen in “The Women of Brewster Place,” by Gloria Naylor; but these problems are somewhat diverse. Fundamentally, the perspectives on the feminine communities found in “Paradise” and “The Women of Brewster Place” show how prejudice toward gender and race affect the characters in the two novels. This paper is a comparison of these two novels and how they show similarities and differences in how prejudice affects the main characters.
All African American communities were a part of life before the Civil Rights Movement. Many cities had a section of town that was only for African Americans and whites refused to let them move into their own sections of town. Morrison already had knowledge about the life of blacks, yet she still researched what many of these sections were like so she could create a better story based on these lifestyles. Morrison also wanted to show the feminine perspective of this life and how prejudice against gender affected people at that period of time. Mandolin Brassaw states, “The Convent turns itself into a paradise for the women living there, demonstrating that improvement relies on the viability of change and fluidity that the men in Ruby eschew” (Brassaw 17).
Critics have argued against Morrison for the way she uses the settings of the story of the African American people, especially from the feminine perspective (Gauthier 395). The feminine perspective of the communities in “Paradise” shows how discrimination affected the women in the novel, who lived in their own “community.” Morrison describes an African American town that isolated itself from others who believed this would make them a strong community; what they did not realize was that their blocking out of others would not make them any safer. The men in the community set rules and standards that would keep people who were different out of their community. “That is why they are here in this Convent. To make sure it never happens again. ... That nothing inside or out rots the one all-black town without pain” (Morrison 5). Often, people believe that prejudice is shown toward people who are from different races, cultures, or ethnic backgrounds. However, the fact is that gender is also often a reason for bias. The community of Ruby wanted isolation from the white world and the one way they believed they could do this was to stop anyone who was different. The women from the Convent were different; they allowed people into the Convent that the people in Ruby would have rejected....
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