October 3, 2014
Living on the Street
Ann Petry’s novel,
, was published in 1946. This riveting novel narrates the life of a single mother, Lutie Johnson, and her struggle of living in poverty on the streets of Harlem. Throughout this novel the theme of motherhood, or lack thereof, is very prevalent. However; the theme of motherhood does not capture my attention. What interests me is the underlying theme of the profound effect the “Street” has over its inhabitants. This theme captures my attention because ideas such as this still can be seen throughout almost any povertystricken place that exists today. What is also fascinating is that the woman who wrote this novel grew up in a middleclass family, so she never experienced poverty firsthand. Even though Petry grew up privileged, she still is able to see and capture the essence of how the “Street” leads its residents to live a life that is doomed from the start.
closes with Lutie’s final thoughts before she leaves Harlem. The novel states, “All she could think was, It was that street. It was that goddamned street,” (436.) This declaration supports the naturalist idea that when it comes to freewill versus external forces, the external force always win. This novel illustrates how Lutie tries with all her might to get her and her son, Bub, out of the slums of poverty, but in the end she loses to the street. The novel gives the sense that Lutie never really has a chance, and her fate has been determined since birth. In
chapter eighteen the novel states, “Yes, a oneway ticket, she thought. I’ve had one since the day I was born,” (434.)
In order for Lutie to provide for Bub, she has no choice but to work. Because Lutie works, Bub is left alone in the apartment very often. Given their conditions, Lutie is being the ...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document