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)

14 thoughts on “Sadie and Maud”

  1. what the hell, you didn’t give your reaction or Laboss’s. that weak.

  2. classes? going for a new degree?

    hmmmm … my interpretations would be about what is also not said … the poem presents the two opposite poles of a woman’s possible life, educated and alone or wild and shamed …. leaving out the “married and happy” …. if i was more in the mood to analyze i’d write more on the old perceptions of a woman’s place being in the home and that anything else is an unfulfilled life … but for now i’ll just give it a hearty blah 😉

  3. I’d have to agree with Derick. Sorry boss. I think Saddie is a free spirit. Enjoyed life, making the best out of whatever fate handed out. Maude on the other hand to the route she felt she was ‘suppose’ follow. Maude was miserable. She was never able to do more than meet status quo and never found true happiness. While Saddie may have died younger, she never really dies. Her spirit and love of life passes on to her daughters. When Maude dies, she dies alone. No one remembers the spinsters.

  4. “While Saddie may have died younger, she never really dies. Her spirit and love of life passes on to her daughters”

    not bad

  5. The take that I got on this was sadie made a bad choice but ultimatly wound up satisfied in life. Maud on the other hand didnt seem too appreciated like she was at a younger age. I also appreciate all the comments and the essay that was written because it helped me get a handle on the one that I was suppose to write

  6. Hey I have to do an oral commentary with this poem as well! I also, never saw Sadie as an alcoholic, but rather someone that got the most out of life. As a consequence of her actions, she shamed her parents and sister. But she definately lived life to the fullest. Poor Maud needs to mellow out a bit.

  7. The way I see it is…

    At first you start to feel bad for Sadie, doesn’t go to college and her parents are ashamed of her and you like Muad because it looks like she’ll turn out to be successful and happy. Truth is, Sadie had two kids and does’t care what society (mother, father, sister) thought about it. Nothing would stop her from living everyday to the fullest, by using a comb to get to every strand and going on without any tangles. Maud on the other hand is the one who ends up alone and scared of life. She doesn’t have a look on life to pass on to her children because she doesn’t have any. So your first impression of the 2 sisters is switched, ironically.

  8. I love all the different takes…

    It’s true at first it seems that Maud has the better life going off to college while Sadie stays home, but as you read on that changes. “Sadie scraped life with a fine-tooth comb, her comb found every strand” means she left nothing undone no rock unturned she did everything she wanted to do in life and was one of the happiest people in the land. Obviously she was a single mom and her family was ashamed because according to society that didn’t look right. When Sadie dies her daughters will remember her as free spirited and a person who loved and enjoyed life. Maud on the other hand lives alone with no one to pass her heritage on to. So at the end of the story I would say Sadie was the smarter of the two.

  9. I believe that there is the posibility that Maud did lead a happy life. Who’s to say that she didn’t have any children or a husband at one point? Although that is what I think, I do agree that the poem is meant to show that Sadie lead a good life though she didn’t have a good education.

  10. i totally agree with Derick. Sadie decided to explore life and live it the way she wanted and Maud just did what she was expected to do and not having a happy and wonderful life as Sadie did.

Comments are closed.