Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

by

August Wilson

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Mattie Campbell Character Analysis

A young woman who comes to Seth and Bertha’s boarding house to see Bynum so that she can ask him to bind her to Jack Carper, her lover who recently left her. Apparently, Mattie and Jack had two children, but they both died as babies, at which point Jack told Mattie she must have a “curse” on her. He then ran off. Bynum tells Mattie that some people aren’t supposed to be brought back, and that because the babies died, Jack isn’t “bound” to her. He tells her that Jack is clearly being called toward somebody else. Disappointed, Mattie remains in the kitchen, where Jeremy begins talking to her, eventually convincing her to let him keep her company while she waits for her true lover to return. After she and Jeremy go out that night, Mattie moves into Jeremy’s room with him, but he quickly abandons her by running away with Molly Cunningham. Mattie remains in the boarding house, where she and Herald Loomis develop something of a romantic tension, though they never consummate this interest. When Loomis bolts out the door at the end of the play, having just achieved a sense of “self-sufficiency,” Mattie runs after him.

Mattie Campbell Quotes in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

The Joe Turner’s Come and Gone quotes below are all either spoken by Mattie Campbell or refer to Mattie Campbell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone published in 1988.
The Play Quotes

Jeremy just young. He don’t know what he getting into. That gal don’t mean him no good. She’s just using him to keep from being by herself. That’s the worst use of a man you can have. You ought to be glad to wash him out of your hair. I done seen all kind of men. I done seen them come and go through here. Jeremy ain’t had enough to him for you. You need a man who’s got some understanding and who willing to work with that understanding to come to the best he can. You got your time coming. You just tries too hard and can’t understand why it don’t work for you. Trying to figure it out don’t do nothing but give you a troubled mind. Don’t no man want a woman with a troubled mind.

You get all that trouble off your mind and just when it look like you ain’t never gonna find what you want […] you look up and it’s standing right there. That’s how I met my Seth. You gonna look up one day and find everything you want standing right in front of you.

Related Characters: Bertha Holly (speaker), Jeremy Furlow, Mattie Campbell, Molly Cunningham
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One: Scene One Quotes

The roots is a powerful thing. I can fix it so one day he’ll walk out his front door…won’t be thinking of nothing. He won’t know what it is. All he knows is that a powerful dissatisfaction done set in his bones and can’t nothing he do make him feel satisfied. He’ll set his foot down on the road and the wind in the trees be talking to him and everywhere he step on the road, that road’ll give back your name and something will pull him right up to your doorstep. Now, I can do that. I can take my roots and fix that easy. But maybe he ain’t supposed to come back. And if he ain’t supposed to come back…then he’ll be in your bed one morning and it’ll come up on him that he’s in the wrong place. That he’s lost outside of time from his place that he’s supposed to be in. Then both of you be lost and trapped outside of life and ain’t no way for you to get back into it. ’Cause you lost from yourselves and where the places come together, where you’re supposed to be alive, your heart kicking in your chest with a song worth singing.

Related Characters: Bynum Walker (speaker), Mattie Campbell, Jack Carper
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Joe Turner’s Come and Gone LitChart as a printable PDF.
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone PDF

Mattie Campbell Character Timeline in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

The timeline below shows where the character Mattie Campbell appears in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One: Scene One
Identity Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
A young woman named Mattie Campbell comes to the boarding house and asks to speak with Bynum. Sitting in the... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Mattie ignores Bynum’s warnings, pleading with him to make Jack Carper return to her. She explains... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Before Mattie leaves, Jeremy catches her by the door and says he overheard her story. “Had me... (full context)
Act One: Scene Three
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
...and announces that he won a dollar in the guitar contest. He asks Seth if Mattie Campbell can move into his room with him, and then pays for her board. Putting... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
...purely physical beings, but Jeremy has trouble absorbing the lesson, saying, “Oh, I ain’t ignoring [Mattie], Mr. Bynum. It’s hard to ignore a woman got legs like she got.” Seeing that... (full context)
Act Two: Scene One
Spirituality Theme Icon
...Herald down. “Mr. Loomis alright, Seth,” Bynum says. “He just got a little excited.” When Mattie comes down for breakfast, she asks if Jeremy has already left for the day, and... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
...because it’s “too spooky.” Upon hearing this, Bynum leaves the kitchen, and Molly turns to Mattie, saying she hopes she didn’t offend the old man. (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Molly and Mattie talk about men, and Mattie explains that she and Jeremy are “keeping company till maybe... (full context)
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Mattie leaves for work, and Seth comes inside just before Jeremy also reappears. Seth asks why... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
...to Jeremy’s suggestion that they elope, Molly reminds him that he’s “tied up with that Mattie Campbell,” but he upholds that they’re merely keeping each other company. He tries to convince... (full context)
Act Two: Scene Three
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
When the lights come up onstage, Bynum and Mattie are eating breakfast while Bertha works over the stove. Bynum talks to Mattie about the... (full context)
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
...that it’s Tuesday. Annoyed, Bertha pulls her husband out of the kitchen, leaving Herald and Mattie alone. They talk idly about how Loomis needs to find his wife to get a... (full context)
Act Two: Scene Five
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
...the roads have washed out, making it harder for Selig to travel. As they wait, Mattie comes downstairs and sits down, asking Loomis where he’s going to go. “We gonna see... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
After Herald and Zonia leave, Bertha remarks that his behavior toward Mattie was “the closest [she] come to seeing him act civilized.” Turning to Mattie, she says,... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
As Bertha, Bynum, and Mattie laugh, Seth enters and joins their hysterics. Eventually, he says that Herald is standing on... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
...for years: “Goodbye, Martha.” Having said this, he turns and makes his exit, and as Mattie runs to join him, Bynum calls out, “Herald Loomis, you shining! You shining like new... (full context)