The Street Background

The Street Background

The Street was written by Ann Petry, an African American author. The novel was published in 1946 and is set during World War II in New York City, specifically Harlem. The protagonist is named Lutie Johnson, who is the single African American mother of her son Bub. Petry uses many different perspectives to tell Johnson’s story, filled with sexism and racism and disillusioned by the American dream and the wealth surrounding her.

In The Street, Lutie is working for a wealthy white family, yet she still believes in Benjamin Franklin’s famous advice, that if she works hard and saves her money, she can become wealthy and live a better life. One significant character, named Junto, represents how blind Lutie is to the impossibility of the American dream for everyone. Using many flashbacks and combining all the perspectives into one cohesive story, Petry describes the dramatic change in how Lutie lives and sees her position in society.

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