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Men’s Book Club
by Earle O’Donnell
The Street tells the story of Lutie Johnson, a bright, talented, and ambitious black woman and mother who is determined to escape the poverty and hardness of Harlem in 1944. Ann Petry, the author and herself a black woman, captures Lutie’s “fierce determination” to “stake out a piece of life for herself.” She was “poor and black and shut out as though a door had been slammed in her face. Well, she would… beat and bang on it and push against it and use a chisel in order to get it open.” Almost all whites fear or exploit her, and she hates them for it. The blacks in Harlem are so busy struggling to survive that they view her hopes with malice.
In Lutie’s pursuit of dignity and freedom, circumstances require her to make some decisions that, like those of heroes in a Greek tragedy, prove self-destructive. But the real story of The Street is the way that the desperate struggle of most merely to survive has shut out compassion and hope. After the unexpected ending, one feels compelled to ask how Petry’s cruel Harlem came to be and what might be done to help build a path to dignity and opportunity for those who occupy the Street.
Please join us on May 12 at 7:30 pm on Zoom to discuss this engrossing novel. If you are interested in receiving the links for the Men’s Book Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org