4. The young black woman and the old yellow woman sat in the kitchen for hours, blending their lives so that what lay behind one and ahead of the other became indistinguishable.

Shortly after Mattie Michael and Eva Turner meet for the first time in Mattie’s chapter, they begin to share their life stories with each other. They are separated not only by age but by experience. The content of their lives varies in almost every regard, from the fact that Eva has had a number of different husbands while Mattie has had only one brief lover, to the differences in the quality of their lives. Eva is a relatively prosperous woman with a large, beautiful house, while Mattie is poor and homeless. Their differences are highlighted even more by the contrast in their skin tone and age. Yet as the passage stresses, these differences are only superficial. The women are connected to each other by their gender and color. The quote also foreshadows what lies ahead for Mattie. After Eva dies, Mattie inherits her house, and just as Eva’s children eventually abandoned her, so too will Mattie’s son Basil abandon Mattie. The hardship and joy that Eva has experienced during her life will come to mirror Mattie’s own experiences.

The ability to connect to another human being is an essential idea throughout the novel, touched upon again and again in every story that unfolds. Mattie and Eva’s connection is the first in a series of life-altering relationships that have the power to restore hope to an otherwise hopeless situation. Mattie finds Eva shortly after she flees her rundown apartment, Etta finds Mattie waiting up for her when she is her lowest point, and Lorraine finds Ben when it seems as if no one else in the world understands her.