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Poetry - Sadie and Maud

Gwendolyn Brooks was a twentieth-century African-American poet. Much of her poetry focuses on social, political, class and race issues; many of those poems written in the Sixties provide a commentary on the Civil Rights Movement. Brooks mastered the art of capturing the rhythms of spoken language in her poetry.

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Sadie and Maud

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.


Gwendolyn Brooks 

  1. Sadie and Maud are most likely to be...
  2. The first two lines of the poem mimic a ...
    The pattern of syllables (5/4/4/5) in the first stanza has a distinctly nursery-rhyme feel, an effect reinforced by its words. Rhyming pairs such as 'mouse / house' create the same impression
  3. Considering the answer to question two, what effect does this allusion have?
  4. Which word does NOT describe Maud at the beginning of the poem?
    Maud goes to college, as her parents most likely expect of her. This action implies that she is clever and ambitious, while the contrast with Sadie implies that Maud is also more sensible
  5. 'Sadie scraped life / With a fine toothed comb. / She didn't leave a tangle in / Her comb found every strand.' - What do these lines mean?
    The words 'fine toothed', 'scraped', 'didn't leave a tangle' and 'found every strand' emphasise Sadie's thoroughness in enjoying everything life has to offer
  6. The poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, uses the comb as ...
  7. 'Sadie bore two babies / Under her maiden name.' - Which of the following is true?
    Ma, Papa and Maud don't respond well to Sadie's single motherhood
  8. The beginning of the poem appears to portray Maud as the one who made wise choices in life. This view is overturned in which stanza?
    Maud is left alone, 'a thin brown mouse'
  9. What has Sadie left as a heritage for her daughters?
  10. The rhythmic patterns in this poem are not entirely regular, but are predictable. These patterns are sharply disturbed in which stanza?
    'Under her maiden name' fits especially awkwardly in the pattern, reminding the reader what a shock the situation was for Sadie's parents

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