Ben is the first African-American to live in Brewster Place, and he is the most consistent figure in the community. Known mainly for being a drunk, Ben remains a mystery for most of the novel. When he does appear, he is almost always in a drunken stupor. He keeps the source of his sorrow secret until just before his death. Ben’s life, like the lives of many of the women of Brewster Place, has been steeped in loss. Abandoned by both his wife and his daughter, Ben has spent his life trying to run from the ghosts of his past. On the surface, he appears to represent some of the worst elements of life in Brewster Place: he is disheveled and drunk and spends his early morning hours perched on a garbage can in an alley. However, Ben is actually an incredibly compassionate and giving man whose death proves to be an important and tragic loss to the community. Before dying, Ben is able to at least temporarily play the role of a father to Lorraine, providing her with the strength she has needed to stand up for herself. Shortly after Ben’s murder, Brewster Place is shut down, suggesting the significance of both his life and his death.