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
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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 strong even when her spirit and body are weak.
Petry portrays marriage, in the black community mainly, as something that is rare. Many times people get married but then they get separated, as Lutie and her husband Jim do at the beginning of the novel. On the street, this is normal, for women to be unmarried or married and their husbands are off