Character Sketch of Mattie Michael in ‘The Women of Brewster Place’

Mattie Michael is the most consistent and prominent character in The Women of Brewster Place. She is the main character of the story as well as the first one the reader is introduced to. As an older woman who has already raised and lost a child, she is a surrogate mother figure to several of the other women. She has endured her share of hardships—losing a child, fleeing her parents’ home, and losing her own home—yet she continues to persevere. Initially, the story starts off with a flashback of Mattie’s younger years; which helps show how she came to Breswter Place. Her journey to Brewster Place began in the backwoods of Tennessee. In the very beginning of the story, Mattie is depicted as an average woman with common emotions for a girl her age (late teens). She has a softspot inside for a local man, Butch Fuller, who her father simply hates. Her constant strength is a source of support for women such as Etta Mae Johnson and Lucielia Turner. As with many females, forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, and Mattie gives in to her temptations one day in the cane field when she has intercourse with Butch. Mattie is impregnated by Butch and is happy that she will now always have someone that loves her. Mattie knows that she cannot tell her father who the child’s father is because she knows he will beat her until he is sure the baby of Butch Fuller is dead. So, Mattie refuses to tell her father, her father beats her up brutally anyway, and Mattie flees Her generous heart and deep faith represent the best elements not only of Brewster Place but also of African-American women in general. In many ways, Mattie is the bedrock of the Brewster Place community. When she arrives, she does so knowing that it may very well be the last place she ever lives. However, she is determined not to be broken by that knowledge. She pities her plants, who are bound to die from lack of sunlight on her little window sill, instead of pitying herself. This shows her enduring strength She continues to live her life the best way she knows how, and, in doing so, she is able to add a measure of comfort to almost everyone she encounters.

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