Really, Doesn't Crime Pay Characters

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Really, Doesn't Crime Pay Summary & Study Guide Description

Really, Doesn't Crime Pay Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Really, Doesn't Crime Pay by Alice Walker.

Myrna: Really, Doesn't Crime Pay

A black woman in her 30s who lives in the South. Myrna is unemployed and married to Ruel Johnson. Myrna wants to be a writer but her husband does not allow her to write; still, she writes in secret for over 20 years, but hides her work. Myrna does not write full stories anymore, only outlines of her stories, because she is a coward and feels she has a heart of a slave. Myrna resents the way Ruel treats her and her writing. She is drawn to Mordecai because he is a writer. When Mordecai finds out that Myrna is a writer and tells her how good her writing is, she is flattered. Myrna allows herself to be seduced-not out of love but out of gratitude that he accepts and appreciates her for her writing. Myrna is thankful for being seen as an intelligent author with more to offer than just her looks and her ability to make babies, but when Mordecai steals her stories, Myrna has a breakdown and attempts to kill her husband, Ruel. Myrna is hospitalized and eventually released. She does not want to forget the past. Outwardly, Myrna embodies everything Ruel wants: she shops constantly makes herself beautiful and becomes his "yes woman." Secretly, Myrna's only real pleasure is when she takes the Pill to keep from getting pregnant, denying Ruel his dream of having a child.

Ruel Johnson: Really, Doesn't Crime Pay

The 40-year-old husband of Myrna. Ruel works in a store and also raises 100 acres of peanuts. Ruel has never been out of the South (specifically, Hancock County) except when he went to fight in the war. He came home from Korea as a war hero. He married Myrna because she looks French, Korean, or Japanese. Ruel wants his wife to shop, stay pretty, and have babies for him. He blames Mordecai for Myrna's breakdown and all he wants to do is forget the past and have a child. By the end of the story Ruel, is not happy, for he's realized that Myrna is trying to wear him down with her compliance and complete ambivalence.

Mordecai Rich: Really, Doesn't Crime Pay

A skinny black man who is younger than Ruel. He is a self-professed vagabond from the North. He is in Hancock County to write impressions down of the South. Mordecai claims that he has a "cold eye" and that he is looking for Beauty and Truth. Mordecai gives Myrna a hard time for being married to Ruel. Mordecai starts hanging around Myrna, soon discovering that she writes. He reads one of her stories and is impressed by the intelligence and depth it contains, so he asks to take three of her notebooks to see if they can be published. Myrna lets him. After about a week, Mordecai leaves without telling Myrna and never contacts her again. Mordecai changes around a few details in Myrna's story and gets it published in his name. It turns out that he only used Myrna for his own personal gain. By the end of the story, Mordecai has an upcoming book due to be released about how black women resist the creative arts.

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