Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down What's Up With the Epigraph?

By Alice Walker

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"It is harder to kill something that is spiritually alive than it is to bring the dead back to life." —Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Walker's use of Hesse's wise words is meant to jibe with her notion that her characters are kind of unstoppable, despite their challenges. In the context of this quote, it might mean that the women in this collection of stories are more "awake" than the average person—perhaps even more than the average man.

We're not sure how this assessment holds up for all the characters in this work. After all, some seem lacking in self-awareness or concern for anything outside themselves—definitely not the Buddhist ideal of Siddhartha, with its focus on compassion and giving up the ego. But perhaps Walker is speaking more about her characters' willingness to step out and take control of their lives. In that case, we think she's spot on.

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