The Women of Brewster Place | Study Guide

Gloria Naylor

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The Women of Brewster Place | Section Summaries

See Section Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • c. 1918

    Brewster Place is built in a northern city.

  • c. 1935

    A wall is erected that transforms Brewster Place into a dead-end street.

  • Summer 1937

    Etta Mae Johnson leaves home in Rock Vale, Tennessee, with dreams of a finer life in the North.

    Etta Mae Johnson
  • August 1942

    Mattie Michael gets pregnant during an afternoon's dalliance with Butch Fuller.

    Mattie Michael
  • Four months later

    Rather than reveal the child's father, Mattie leaves to live with Etta in North Carolina.

    Mattie Michael
  • July 1943

    Eva Turner invites Mattie and her baby, Basil, to move in with her and her grandchild, Lucielia.

    Mattie Michael
  • A few years later

    Eva dies and leaves the house to Mattie and Basil.

    Mattie Michael
  • 1953

    An alcoholic janitor and handyman named Ben becomes the first black resident of Brewster Place.

  • Winter 1973

    Mattie loses her home of 30 years and moves to Brewster Place.

    Mattie Michael
  • Spring 1974

    Ciel nearly dies of grief after an abortion and the tragic death of her daughter.

    Lucielia Louise Turner
  • Summer 1974

    Etta visits Mattie when her last in a series of romantic affairs abruptly ends.

    Etta Mae Johnson
  • That evening

    Etta's fantasy of leading a respectable life is shattered by a tryst with the seedy Reverend Woods.

    Etta Mae Johnson
  • Late Summer 1974

    Kiswana comes to Brewster Place with unrealistic dreams of changing things for the better.

    Kiswana Browne
  • Autumn 1974

    Cora Lee, mother of seven kids, abandons dreams of a finer life to slip back into life-as-usual.

    Cora Lee
  • Early Spring 1975

    Lorraine and Theresa come to live at Brewster Place.

    The Two
  • August 1975

    Gossip spreads that Lorraine and Theresa are lovers, and the tenants turn against them.

    The Two
  • Autumn 1975

    The alcoholic building superintendent, Ben, befriends Lorraine.

    The Two
  • A few weeks later

    Lorraine is gang-raped by local thugs; her mind and spirit broken, she murders Ben.

    The Two
  • A week later

    A block party begins as a dream in which enraged women tear down Brewster Place's hated wall.

    The Block Party
  • Some years later

    Brewster Place waits to die, but memories of it linger in the minds of women who once lived there.


Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Dawn Shortly before the end of World War I, Brewster Place is born, the product of shady, back-room deals between a city poli... Read More
Mattie Michael Mattie Michael arrives at Brewster Place on a snowy winter day. Her new home on the second floor of the last building on... Read More
Etta Mae Johnson It is August and the heat drives the residents of Brewster Place outside to sit on stoops or play in the street. Etta Ma... Read More
Kiswana Browne Kiswana Browne has come to Brewster Place recently and by choice. Sitting in the window of her sixth-floor studio apartm... Read More
Lucielia Louise Turner Lucielia—known as Ciel—is the granddaughter of Eva Turner, Mattie and Basil's old benefactor. She also has ended up livi... Read More
Cora Lee As a little girl, Cora Lee was obsessed with baby dolls. Every year at Christmas, her parents would give her a new doll,... Read More
The Two When Lorraine and Theresa move to Brewster Place, people initially take little notice of them. They are simply the two n... Read More
The Block Party For a week following Ben's murder, it rains day and night. During that time, every woman on Brewster Place has uneasy dr... Read More
Dusk The epilogue, "Dusk," reveals that Brewster Place is abandoned. Crumbling and condemned, it has given all it has to give... Read More
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