Alice Walker Short Stories

Alice Walker is probably best known for the novel The Color Purple, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She also wrote many excellent short stories, some of which are listed here.

“The Flowers”

Myop is a ten-year-old girl who is out exploring the woods behind her family’s sharecropper cabin on a beautiful summer day. As she starts to head home she makes a shocking discovery. (Summary & Analysis)

This story can be read in the preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story(88% in)

“Roselily”

Roselily, a woman with three children, is getting married. She thinks about how her life will change by marrying a member of the Nation of Islam and moving to Chicago. She doesn’t know a lot about her fiancé or his religion, but she’s willing to change her life for her children’s sake.

This story can be read in the preview of In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women(Kindle preview, 30% in)

“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

Mama is an African-American woman living in the Deep South with her daughter, Maggie. Her other daughter, Dee, an educated woman who’s drawn to a traditional African identity, is coming for a visit. (Summary & Analysis)

“The Child Who Favored Daughter”

A girl gets off the school bus and walks toward her house. Her father sits on the porch watching. He knows about the letter. She’s sure of it, but she doesn’t know how he knows about it. He has a shotgun within reach. He thinks back to his own sister and how things went for her. His daughter reminds him of his sister.

“To Hell with Dying”

Mr. Sweet, an old man, is a diabetic, an alcoholic, and a guitar player. When Mr. Sweet was on the brink of dying—which was often—the narrator’s family would “revive” him with love and attention.

“The Welcome Table”

An old, lean, nearly blind African-American woman wearing her Sunday clothes stands on the steps of a church. She walked there from her home about a half mile away. It’s a white church. The sight of her evokes various associations in the minds of the parishioners. One thing they all seem to agree on is that she doesn’t belong. They make several attempts to get her attention.

“The Diary of an African Nun”

A black nun works at a mission school in Uganda. At night, it also serves as a hotel for travelers. She’s young and beautiful, and tourists from different countries react to her differently. She was born in this village and became a nun at twenty. She contemplates her routine and faith compared to the customs of the local people.

“Her Sweet Jerome”

Mrs. Washington owns a beauty parlor at the back of her father’s funeral home, and they both do well in their businesses. Her life becomes more troubled when she falls in love with a quiet schoolteacher, Mr. Jerome Franklin Washington III, a man ten years younger. She wants to take care of him and buy him things. He was beating her while they were seeing each other, but they got married anyway. She eventually hears some gossip that affects her badly.