The Street Is More Than A Story Of Racism And Poverty Essay

The Street Is More Than A Story Of Racism And Poverty Essay

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Ann Petry’s The Street is more than a story of racism and poverty in America. This novel is about how the intersectionality of identities limit African-Americans from achieving equality in the dominant race’s society. The protagonist, Lutie Johnson has three barriers dragging her down. She is not only a woman, but a black woman that is also a lower class single mother. In the novel Lutie faces the realities of the American Dream, which for African- Americans is literally just a dream. Lutie also experiences the harsh effects of poverty and how it shapes one’s life.
The limitations forced upon Lutie makes her realize the truth behind the American Dream. When Lutie comes to Harlem she has this idea of the American Dream. She has this notion that “all she had to do was plan each step and she could get wherever she wanted to go.”(63). She has this independent attitude that since she is young and strong “there isn’t anything [she] can’t do.”(63). What she didn’t realize until later on in the novel is that the intersectionality or her identities as being both a woman and black, a single mother and lower class would limit her from accomplishing her goals. Lutie held on this fantasy life and idolized people like Benjamin Franklin. She thought if “Franklin could live on a little bit of money and could prosper, so could she.”(64). Franklin was also a white male, which put him in the majority category automatically whereas Lutie rests in the minority category. A person like Franklin’s rise to success would be much easier compared to an African American’s. Where people like Franklin will experience triumphs, people like Lutie will experience failure due the intersectionality of her identities.
The intersectionality of Lutie’s ide...


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...s hard to try to steer Bud into the right direction in life and due to the intersection of her identities he will probably end up how she never wanted him to, which is working for the man. At the end of the novel Lutie reiterates a question that her grammar school teacher raises regarding “what possible good has it done to teach people like [Lutie] to write?”(436). Due to society’s limitations upon African-Americans Lutie is saying that whether they were taught to write or not it doesn’t matter, because the system is set up for them to fail anyway.
Together these limitations brought on by society makes it impossible for Lutie to grow as a person. Lutie has dreams and aspirations to move far away from The Street and find a decent job to provide for her family. Due to these limitations society places upon her she will never be able to see these dreams come true.

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