Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Sarah Moss

Josephine Hoyt 

The Gentrification of Boston, Massachusetts

The Gentrification of Boston, Massachusetts

Gentrification is happening in cities all over the United States. As places like Boston build new housing complexes, surrounding neighborhoods become seemingly more attractive and absolutely more expensive. Gentrification can bring new restaurants, shops, better schools, and improved housing to historically under-performing neighborhoods. People in support of gentrification believe that such upgrades make neighborhoods safer and more appealing for future families. The only people that truly benefit from the process of gentrification are the wealthy. Lower class populations, on the other hand, struggle to afford housing in major metropolitan areas. Beginning in the 1970s, Bostonians organized protests and started grassroots campaigns and community action networks against gentrification. Many argued that lower income families could no longer afford rent or find new housing within the public transportation system. Overall, the gentrification of Boston neighborhoods lead to racial inequality, lower-class displacement, and tension between the wealthy and the poor.

Although it is very difficult to search for housing that has everything a person needs for the right price, it is even more complicated for Sarah Moss’ characters that are attempting to define their own identity. Author Sarah Moss depicts changes in her main characters’ identities following a major life changing event. All characters in Moss’ novels are obsessed with one destructive fear, but after each character makes some kind of change in their life, his or her outlook of either the world or themselves transforms as well. In the novel Night Waking, Anna Bennett has to do all the housework and take care of the children when all she wants to do is further her career in writing. Left at home alone all day with no support, Anna’s career becomes her obsession, and her lack of control over it leads her to think very badly of herself, which in turn leads to suicidal thoughts. Towards the end of the novel, Anna becomes more independent and free from her family and begins to write again. In this way, her fear becomes resolved and she is much happier.

Major Works Consulted:

Jennings, James. “Gentrification as Anti-Local Economic Development: the Case of Boston, Massachusetts.” Trotter Review: Vol. 23: Iss. 1, Article 4. Published September 22, 2016. Accessed February 13, 2017. article=1361&context=trotter_review.
Moss, Sarah. Cold Earth. London: Granta, 2010.
---. Night Waking. London: Granta, 2011.
Smith, Paige. “A Student View of Boston’s Gentrification: ‘We Are Ruining the Lives of City Residents.’” The Guardian. Pub. Oct. 1, 2016. Accessed Feb. 20, 2017. /oct/01/boston-university-gentrification- students-ruining-lives-residents.
Photo Credit: Sleigh, Charlotte. "Sarah Moss." Granta Books. Accessed Mar. 3, 2017.