Inner-witnessing as a spatial everyday practice in Ann Petry’s The Street




subjectivity, witnessing, everyday activities, space, architecture, sociology


Some scholars approach Ann Petry’s portrayal of Lutie Johnson’s fate in the hostile background of The Street (1946) through a naturalistic and deterministic lens: the protagonist, a single black mother, dreams of improving her lifestyle by reproducing a white uppermiddle class model. Given Lutie’s gender and race her dreams are, following this critical method, condemned as impossible. This approach to Petry’s novel does not take into account the deep geographical analysis that the author provides of Lutie’s struggle. Employing a spatial paradigm, this essay aims to offer an interpretation of Petry’s novel that challenges traditional geographic patterns evident in the street’s urban description. Such opposition reflects Katherine McKittrick’s approach to the definition of ‘Black women’s geographies’ as sites of struggle. Analyzing the novel’s employment of everyday practices, such as communicative expressions, and Kelly Oliver’s notion of inner-witnessing as one of them, proves how Lutie Johnson’s subjective mapping constitutes an everyday practice within the novel. As such, Petry’s portrayal of Lutie’s creation of space through these everyday practices illustrates how in her interactions with the street’s dynamics Lutie provides a witnessing cartography of struggle that opposes traditional geographic interpretations.


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How to Cite

Coloma Peñate, Patricia. 2024. “Inner-Witnessing As a Spatial Everyday Practice in Ann Petry’s The Street”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 40 (January):81-96.