Women

Alice Walker


They were women then
My mama’s generation
Husky of voice—stout of
Step
With fists as well as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it
Themselves.


Making Meanings 


First Thoughts 
1. What do you see happening in this poem? 

Shaping Interpretations

2. Alice Walker uses an implied metaphor to compare two kinds of actions or struggles. What does she compare the women’s struggle to? 

3. Think about the historical context of this poem. What doors did these women really batter down? 

4. Again, think about American history. What do you think the mined fields and booby-trapped ditches stand for? 

5. What do you think these women knew their children had to know? 

Extending the Text 

6. What other people in the world could be described as generals leading armies? What do these people fight against?

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