Character Development In Petry's "The Street"

1224 words - 5 pages

Three minor characters who were essential in determining Lutie Johnson's fate by the end of Petry's The Street are Pop, Mr. Crosse, and the lawyer. Pop is an essential minor character because of the way he keeps his home and Lutie's home; he creates an environment in which no child can thrive. Mr. Crosse is an essential minor character because of his racist and sexist treatment of Lutie makes her more aware of how society perceives her. The lawyer is an essential minor character because of his unethical treatment of Bub's dilemma. By not informing Lutie of her rights, the lawyer pushes Lutie to her extremes which have disastrous consequences at the close of the novel.As a minor character Pop's reach and influence has coloured Lutie's thoughts and decisions for a number of years. Pop's treatment of his home while Lutie was growing up, later his treatment of Lutie's own home, and then again of his home with Lutie living with him exemplifies how his minor character has influenced Lutie's life and decisions. As a child Lutie was exposed to the illegal dealings Pop had with his moonshine liquor, and as she grew Lutie realized black men were treated differently than other people. To Lutie, the importance of her childhood was she saw how she did not want her son to grow up. Fighting for a different life Lutie and her husband were able to obtain their own home and the chance to give their child a different life from the one she had. Unfortunately, Pop's decisions while he was living with Lutie and Jim caused the loss of their ability to support themselves. Without trying Pop was able to start the end of Lutie's marriage and put her on course for the events which lead to the close of the novel. When Lutie is informed of Jim's infidelity, again by the assistance of Pop, her life is thrown for another loop which places her back into the home of her father. Back in Pop's home Lutie becomes increasingly aware of how important it is for her to get Bub away from the life Pop leads as well as the people Pop entertains. Pop's behaviour towards responsibility, and towards family, are the reasons Lutie needs to find a place of her own to raise her son in a more secure and stable environment than the one her father can provide, and did provide for her. Thus Pop's character is essential for determining Lutie's fate at the end of the novel by being the motivating factor in Lutie's decision to move out on her own. Based on Pop's mistreatment of Lutie as a child and his mistreatment of her home as an adult Pop sets the groundwork for Lutie to be manipulated by the system that she is trying to escape.Mr. Crosse's character is essential in determining Lutie's fate at the close of the novel because of his racist and sexist attitude towards the "not too ugly black girl". Mr. Crosse's behaviour in the studio effects Lutie in ways in which it is difficult to comprehend unless you have been marginalized and treated in an inferior way all of your life. Crosse's racism and...

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