Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Women

By Alice Walker

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Hey, You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down—especially the strong, ambitious, creative Black women in this book. These ladies are often beautiful—or at least attractive. They cherish their relationships with other women, and they keep their men at a distance. Most importantly, they're doing something to change their lives.

Now, that change isn't always a positive thing. Sometimes, it's disruptive in the extreme—we're talking about murder, theft, adultery, serious weight gain, abortion, and breaking off friendships. In each of these cases, a woman is attempting to rise, but it turns out that's a pretty complicated process.

These women succeed, sometimes despite their actions, and they do because of their desire to free themselves from conventional roles or to fulfill ambitions. Sometimes, they step up because they just can't take it anymore. In a nutshell, Walker's women are looking to take their place in the world—on their own terms.

Questions About Women

  1. Can you keep a good woman down? What's Walker's POV on this?
  2. How does trauma define the women in Walker's stories?
  3. How does Walker use race in the development of her female characters (beyond simply making her characters women of color)?
  4. How do Walker's female characters respond to traditional roles (i.e., as wives and mothers)?

Chew on This

Motherhood is good as an interesting experience, according to Walker, but it's not really good for women beyond that.

Walker's main characters are not strong by virtue of being women; they're strong because they are women of color.

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