Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Injustice

By Alice Walker

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Poverty, racism, sexism, violence, ignorance: you name the injustice, and Alice Walker has covered it in You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down. Every story deals with the legacy of slavery, and we're talking about things like rape, lynching, dismemberment, violations of the dead, social isolation, and stereotypes about enslaved people that Just. Won't. Die.

We're sorry to tell you that there's no neatly packaged happy ending to these narratives of injustice. That's because those stories have never ended in American society. Walker chooses to speak frankly about these issues precisely because they continue. She knows that her readers—no matter how far down the line—will need to have their eyes opened by the reality that she and so many others have spent a lifetime living.

Questions About Injustice

  1. How do the white characters in Walker's stories respond to racial injustice?
  2. Why is Susan Marie so mad about her colleague's choice of costume for the ball at their college?
  3. Why does Anastasia call out Irene at the end of "Source"?
  4. What is the historical injustice Walker draws attention to in "Nineteen Fifty-Five"?

Chew on This

Elethia's actions on Uncle Albert's behalf right a wrong but also damage her for life.

Although Gracie Mae seems glad that her old song is getting exposure, Walker wants us to see an entire music industry that was built on the forced obscurity of talented Black artists.

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