my question concerns interracial sexual relationship or love if we may say and interracial friendships in Alice Walker's You Can't Keep a Good Woman  Down. I mean do you think Alice Walker...

my question concerns interracial sexual relationship or love if we may

say and interracial friendships in Alice Walker's You Can't Keep a Good Woman 

Down. I mean do you think Alice Walker supports or discourages such relationships between black and white people of both sexes? I am confused because she is against racism, then how is it possible for black and white to be in a close relationship despite a huge past of racial discrimination? thanks a lot

i hope your answer comes with quotes and evidence. 

Asked on by suzyhousari

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

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Alice Walker is concerned less with the "love" aspect of interracial relationships than with the "power" dynamics that exist in such relationships. I would guess that as a human being and an anti-racist, she would say that love should rule when people make decisions about their life, but as a writer she is concerned with exposing the truth. A big part of the stories in this collection look at power dynamics within interracial relationships and the complicated nature of those dynamics given racial discrimination.

The story that most obviously explores these themes is How Did I Get Away with Killing One of the Biggest Lawyers in the State? It Was Easy. The story concerns the rape of a 14 year old girl by a rich young man. Strangely, this later becomes a consensual sexual relationship. Within this one extreme relationship we can see the past (rape), the present (unequal power balance between two people), and potential future (revenge) of race relations in the United States. 

One of the most striking passages which shows how the young girl has been seduced into self-hatred by her powerful white rapist/lover is when she describes what happens to her perfectly sane mother who rejects the relationship:

"I began to hate Mama. We argued about Bubba all the time, for months. And I still slipped out to meet him, because Mama had to work. I told him how she beat me, and about how much she despised him—he was really pissed off that any black person could despise him—about how she had these spells ... Well, the day I became seventeen, the day of my seventeenth birthday, I signed papers in his law office, and I had my mother committed to an insane asylum. 

Whether you think Alice Walker supports or discourages such relationships is up to you to decide, but what is clear to me is that Alice Walker wants to shine a harsh light on how unequal such relationships can be, and what can happen as a result, with families turned upside down, and the sins of the past visited upon people in the present. 

"How did I get away with killing one of the biggest lawyers in the state? It was easy. He kept a gun in his desk drawer at the office and one night I took it out and shot him. I shot him while he was wearing his thick winter overcoat, so I wouldn't have to see him bleed. But I don't think I took the time to wipe off my fingerprints, because, to tell the truth, I couldn't stand it another minute in that place.

For some critical commentary on the stories in this volume, please visit the link below for literary criticism published not long after the book was released. At that time, the racial dynamics were less discussed as they would be today. A relevant paragraph:

“How Did I Get Away with Killing One of the Biggest Lawyers in the State?” is a story of evil and deceit, an example of misused power, particularly adult abuse of childhood innocence. Despite her having acquiesced to Bubba’s wily acts, the girl is still the stronger character in the story. Her reawakening to the lawyer’s machinations symbolizes a renaissance of the oppressed—all the people who are raped by swift, uncontrollable currents in the stream of life. Her strength is further shown in the clever way in which she kills Bubba and takes his money, and in her fortitude in babysitting Bubba’s children to enable his wife to attend his funeral. The story symbolizes the triumph of blacks over whites, of women over men, of childhood innocence over adult machinations. It also contrasts life in the stinking ghetto to that in the affluent environs.

Sources:

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