Sadie and Maud

By: Gwendolyn Brooks

Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine toothed comb.

She didn’t leave a tangle in
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chicks
In all the land.

Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maud and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.

When Sadie said her last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie left as heritage
Her fine-toothed comb.)

Maud, who went to college,
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.


Alright, you’re not making much sense. You break two months of silence with a cut-and-paste poem and write it off as a post? This I don’t accept. Explanations please.

Okay, okay. Some reasons for my brief hiatus:

1. My incorrigible laziness
2. My new job
3. School-work: papers and papers and papers, Courier New, and MLA, and citations, and ixnay on the personal pronouns, passive voice? What’s passive voice?

This is not a cut-and-paste poem–not exactly. There was a preceding Google search then the cut-and-paste. I actually had to write a paper on “Sadie and Maud” for class.

Before I began my own analysis, my roommate Mark gave a crack at it. He had a completely different take on this poem than I did–different but valid.

To him, Sadie was an alcoholic with a dissipated lifestyle who eventually commits suicide and passes on this lifestyle to her progeny. Mark maintains that the author is not favoring Sadie’s life over Maud’s but is sympathetic to both.

Interesting take on the poem, and I certainly don’t find it wrong.

My understanding is a little different. I don’t believe Sadie is as dissolute as Mark suggests but rather, admirably lives her life under her own choices. Maud on the other hand, lives the life she is expected to live. I don’t think Sadie commits suicide, and I think the legacy she leaves for girls is to sieze life with passion. Maud is the one to be sorry for, not Sadie.

So what do you think the poem means? Whose life appears better? Sadie or Maud?

full essay (doc|html)