Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Laura Nicosia

Committee Member

Jeffrey Gonzalez

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka


Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place is a landmark novel of black female empowerment, yet even as the novel affirms the necessity for black women to band together, Brewster Place simultaneously points to the idea that systemic racism and sexism may be a hurdle over which the community cannot leap—other systemic changes must be implemented before true equality can be achieved. This novel forces readers to grapple with questions that may present unsavory answers: Is it possible to eradicate systemic racism? To what degree do the subjugated have the ability to change the prejudicial system in which they live? Are racism and sexism innate problems to American society, or are there aspects of human nature that cause division? Even as Naylor presents her diverse, vibrant, multigenerational community of African American women, creating an aura of hope that permeates each story cycle, the idea that hope is an elusive—potentially impossible—expectation is present from the novel’s inception as Naylor frames Brewster Place with Langston Hughes’s “A Dream Deferred,” and then chooses to end with the final story cycle being presented as a dream—a mere vision of complete black, female camaraderie that breaks down systemic barriers, a fantasy that is “No more yielding but a dream” (Naylor 126).

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