The Abortion

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Abortion” by Alice Walker. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Abortion”
Author: Alice Walker
Published in: You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down
Date of Publication: 1980s
Genre: Short story

Alice Walker (b. 1944) is an African-American writer and a political activist for African-American rights and women’s rights. Her literary work includes poems, short stories, and novels. Her novel, The Color Purple, won her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. “The Abortion” is a story inspired by Walker’s own experiences as she underwent an abortion while in college.


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The title of the short story—“The Abortion”—is explicit in terms of its relation to the plot. We expect the story to deal with issues related to abortion. Reading the story, we find out that the narrative deals with the process of a wife getting an abortion and the effect it has on both the husband and the wife.

At a deeper level, the title and the story are about women’s freedom to decide what they want to do with their bodies, in a time when abortion was an important topic of debate (the 1980s) and when women’s equality was still being established in society. Imani’s husband turns out to be incapable of giving his wife support or understating her inner turmoil. He also prioritizes his career over his marriage...

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The Abortion

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