The Women of Brewster Place Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “The Women of Brewster Place” by Gloria Naylor that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “The Women of Brewster Place” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “The Women of Brewster Place” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Symbol of the Wall in “The Women of Brewster Place” by Gloria Naylor

A wall divides Brewster Place from the neighboring communities, and it, like Brewster Place itself, almost has a life of its own; it becomes central to the action of the novel and is ultimately torn apart by the women of Brewster Place. On a superficial level, the symbolism of the wall in “The Women of Brewster Place” is obvious. Dig deeper, though, and consider what other symbolic meaning the wall might have, both for individual women and men in the community, and for Brewster Place at large. Write an expository essay on “The Women of Brewster Place” in which you explain the symbolism and comment upon the significance of its destruction at the end of the novel.

Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #2: Relationships Among the Women of Brewster Place

The women of Brewster Place have complex relationships with one another, relationships that are by no means static. The appearance of the lesbian couple, Theresa and Lorraine, challenge the women’s notions of love and friendship, and lead to a brief but profound conversation about the quality and characteristics of female friendships. Using this conversation (see Selected Quotes, below), write an essay in which you identify and explain some of the most important female relationships in the novel and their functions for the women of Brewster Place.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Unfulfilled Dreams as a Theme in “The Women of Brewster Place'

Almost all of the people who live in Brewster Place have dreams of moving somewhere better, yet few of them will ever have the means to do so. Consider what the effect of these persistent dreams is on the characters as individuals, but also as a community. If everyone is always dreaming of leaving, is it possible for anyone to invest in the betterment of Brewster Place? Be sure to address whether and how Brewster Place is affected by these dreams by the novel’s end; consider, especially, the last section of the novel and the narrator’s claim that “No one cries when a street dies" (see Selected Quotes).

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Stereotyping in The Women of Brewster Place

Most, if not all, of the characters in The Women of Brewster Place are stereotyped. Almost all of the men are irresponsible, many of the women appear to be powerless, and the lesbians are considered deviant. Write an expository essay in which you identify the specific stereotypes that shape the main characters, and explain how these stereotypes function in the development of the theme.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5: Brewster Place as a Character

Sometimes a place can take on the characteristics and functions of a living character, and such is the case in Brewster Place. Write an expository essay in which you identify and explain how Naylor develops Brewster Place as vividly as if it was a living, breathing person. Also, consider why the personification of Brewster Place is important and how it supports the thematic development of the novel.


This list of important quotations from “The Women of Brewster Place” by Gloria Naylor will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “The Women of Brewster Place” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of “The Women of Brewster Place” by Gloria Naylor are referring to.

“She breathed deeply of the freedom she found in Mattie’s presence. Here she had no choice but to be herself." (58)

“Etta soon found out that America wasn’t ready for her yet—not in 1937. And so along with the countless other disillusioned, restless children of Ham with so much to give and nowhere to give it, she took her talents to the street. And she learned to get over…." (60)

“Moreland Woods knew Etta was the type of woman who not only knew which way to turn, but, more often than not, had built her own roads when nothing else was accessible." (68)

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over." (70)

“…practically every apartment contained a family, a Bible, and a dream that one day enough could be scraped from those meager Friday night paychecks to make Brewster Place a distant memory." (77)

“You constantly live in a fantasy world—always going to extremes—turning butterflies into eagles, and life isn’t about that. It’s accepting what is and working from that." (85)

“Confronted with the difference that had been thrust into their predictable world, they reached into their imagination and, using an ancient pattern, weaved themselves a reason for its existence. Out of necessity they stitched all of their secret fears and lingering childhood nightmares into this existence, because even though it was deceptive enough to try and look as they looked, talk as they talked, and do as they did, it had to have some hidden stain to invalidate it—it was impossible for them both to be right. So they leaned back, supported by the sheer weight of their numbers and comforted by the woven barrier that kept them protected from the yellow mist that enshrouded the two as they came and went on Brewster Place." (132)

“‘They, they, they!’ Theresa exploded. ‘You know, I’m not starting up with this again…. Who in the hell are they? And where in the hell are we? Living in some dump of a building in this God-forsaken part of town around a bunch of ignorant niggers with the cotton still under their fingernails because of you and your theys.’" (134)

“But I’ve loved some women deeper than I ever loved any man….And there been some women who loved me more and did more for me than any man ever did…. Maybe it’s not so different….Maybe that’s why some women get so riled up about it, ‘cause they know deep down it’s not so different at all." (141)

“No one cries when a street dies….It dies when the odors of hope, despair, lust, and caring are wiped out by the seasonal winds; when dust has settled into the cracks and scars, leveling their depths and discolorations—their reasons for being; when the spirit is trapped and fading in someone’s memory." (191)

Reference: Naylor, Gloria. The Women of Brewster Place. New York: Penguin, 1980. <