Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Doors in an Ancient House

By Alice Walker

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Doors in an Ancient House

In "A Sudden Trip Home in the Spring," Sarah Davis tells her suitemate that Richard Wright's dud of a dad was "one faulty door in a house of many ancient rooms" (Trip.1.36). She brings it up as she's thinking of her own father, who she's pretty sure never understood her and who seems more like a stumbling block than a helpful staircase as she comes of age.

But fathers are supposed to be an access point or a door to family history, as Sarah points out in her metaphor. If the door doesn't work as it should, though, a person could be cut off from an entire side of herself.

This is especially hard for Sarah, who's living a kind of double life. Her family culture is totally different from the Northern, all-white, upper-class dorm-dwellers' culture at Cresselton. But she still feels more at home in her dorm than in Georgia because that's where her talent and ambition are nurtured.

If she's going to succeed on her own terms, Sarah has to find a way back to her roots, even though her father had been a closed door. And she does find her way—through her strong and bright brother, who gives her the encouragement and love she needs to spread her wings.

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