They were women then
My mama’s generation
Husky of voice—stout of
With fists as well as
How they battered down
How they led
To discover books
A place for us
How they knew what we
Without knowing a page
Understanding the poem
1. From a historical perspective, whom specifically does the poem honor?
2. Alice Walker mentions both their fists and their hands. What difference is suggested by these words? What are the different actions that each performs in the poem?
3. Alice Walker uses an implied metaphor to compare two kinds of actions or struggles. What does she compare the women’s struggle to?
4. Again, thinking about American history, what do you think the mined fields and booby-trapped ditches are metaphors for?
5. What did these women “discover”? For whom has their struggle been waged?
6. What do you think these women knew their children
had to know?