The theme of bonds between women plays a central role in The Women of Brewster Place. Although the women who live on the street and in the neighborhood hail from different parts of the United States, they find important elements of community there. The stories involving Mattie Michael, in particular, provide a thread that weaves together other female characters. Mattie’s significant relationships when she lived in Tennessee include Etta Mae Johnson and Eva Turner. When she moves North, Mattie finds new reasons for connecting with Lucielia (“Ciel”) Turner, who is Eva’s granddaughter.
When they lived in the same Tennessee town, Mattie’s plight as a poor young mother was alleviated by the generosity of Eva Turner. Ciel, then just a child, was living with Eva when her grandmother invited Mattie and her son, Basil, to live in their home. Over the decades, Eva’s continued kindness led to Mattie’s inheriting her home when she passed. Sadly, as other circumstances prevented both Mattie and Ciel from staying there, both women eventually made their way to Brewster Place. Mattie is now able to pay forward the kindness that Eva had shown her, helping the distraught Ciel grieve over her baby’s death and gain strength to distance herself from an abusive partner.