Gwendolyn Brooks published "Sadie and Maud" in 1945 in her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville. Written in simple, straightforward language, the poem tells the story of two women (the Sadie and Maude of the title) whose paths in life are quite different. Maud goes off to college, whereas Sadie stays home and has children out of wedlock. Though her family feels great "shame" at this, Sadie herself seems to enjoy living life her on her own terms. Maud, on the other hand, leads a lonely life, eventually returning to live in Sadie's house "all alone" after Sadie's death. In many ways the poem seems to praise going against the grain and living life by one's own rules. Yet by showcasing the hardships of both Sadie and Maud—who face either intense social scrutiny or intense loneliness—the poem also implies that there weren't many clear paths to happiness or fulfillment for women living in the mid-20th century.