Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Writing Style

By Alice Walker

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Writing Style

Conversational and Colloquial, Occasionally Academic

Walker illustrates the flexibility of her writing style best when she puts two characters from different worlds side by side with each other. This happens when Sarah Davis chats with her grandma, an old-school woman, about her plans:

"Well," said her grandmother, placing the bottle with dignity back into her purse and gazing pleadingly into Sarah's face, "I sure would 'preshate a Great-Grand." Seeing her granddaughter's smile, she heaved a great sigh, and, walking rather haughtily over the stones and grass, mad her way to the church steps. (Trip.3.5)

Walker hits her academic tone in "Advancing Luna—and Ida B. Wells," mostly because the structure of the work allows her to do so. She approaches this piece of fiction like an essay:

I said that if we in fact lived in a society committed to the establishment of justice for everyone ("justice" in this case encompassing equal housing, education, access to work, adequate dental care, et cetera), thereby placing Luna and Freddie Pye in their correct relationship to each other, i.e., that of brother and sister, compañeros, then the two of them would be required to struggle together over what this rape of her had meant. (Luna.Afterwards.3)

That passage is both a mouthful and a mindful. Here, Walker stretches her sentence—yeah, that's one sentence—to make sure her ideas are articulated with precision. Her choice of language makes it clear that Luna's story is about ideas and ideals, not specifically about a narrative arc.

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