“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a short story containing a first-person point of view, narrated by the mother in the story. “The mother” is not named in the story, yet holds an important role in being the protagonist while also incorporating vital details of the characters’ emotions, views, and ideas of each other. The narrator tells the audience everything she knows about the other two main characters, giving the audience insight on how to view these characters in the story. Walker does a great job using two specific literary elements in “Everyday Use” to pinpoint the story’s theme. In “Everyday Use”, Walker develops the theme of the importance of Christ-like behavior by unifying these literary elements: point of view and characterization.
“Everyday Use” is one of the most popular stories by Alice Walker. The issue that this story raises is very pertinent from ‘womanist’ perspective. The term, in its broader sense, designates a culture specific form of woman-referred policy and theory. ‘womanism’ may be defined as a strand within ‘black feminism’. As against womansim, feminist movement of the day was predominately white-centric. A womanist is one who expresses a certain amount of respect for woman and their talent and abilities beyond the boundaries of race and class. “Everyday Use” can be seen as a literary representation of this concept. “Everyday Use” is a story of a mother and her two daughters- Dee and Maggie.
The Garden of Diversity: How “The Flowers” helped me understand my own experience. The words immortalized in Alice Walker’s short story “The Flowers” resonated with me in a profound manner. Myop’s adventure from the property that her family shares to the woods is one that she has embarked upon many times before. This time even though she doesn’t realize it, everything will be different. Walker’s character may not understand the consequences that come with the encounter with the lynched black man, the thought that crosses my mind while reading this is that although she has no idea of what awaits her in the future, of the cruelty and injustice that unfortunately runs rampant in today’s society, she can still find a place to be proud and hopeful of who she is.
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” illustrates Dee’s struggle for identity by placing her quest for a new identity against her family’s desire for maintaining culture and heritage. In the beginning, the narrator, who is the mother of Dee, mentions some details about Dee; how she “...wanted nice things… She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts… At sixteen, she had a style of her own: and (she) knew what style was.” Providing evidence to the thesis, she was obviously trying exceptionally hard to find for herself a sense of identity. She wanted items her family couldn’t afford, so she worked hard to gain these, and she found a sense of identity from them, but it also pushed her farther away from her family. As the story progresses,
Civil rights issues stand at the core of Anne Moody’s memoir. However, because my last two journal entries centered on race and the movement, I have decided to shift my focus. In her adolescent years, Anne Moody must live with her mother, her mother’s partner Raymond, and her increasing number of siblings. As she reaches maturity, she grows to be a beautiful girl with a developed body. Her male peers and town members notice, as does her step father Raymond.
She has been caught between two fires: racial dehumanization in the form of “slavery” and “lynching” on the one hand, and the call for “being good” and exerting effort for the betterment of oneself on the other. Self-development and betterment of oneself date back to Booker T. Washington who called for peaceful co-existence with white people instead of protesting against racism. He called colored people to work hard and realize achievements in order to prove to white people that they deserve equal treatment. Finney does not agree on some values and beliefs of the past as she criticizes Washington’s viewpoint by portraying a hard-done-by protagonist who has “heard / 7,844 Sunday sermons on how God made every / woman in his image (Finney, Head off & Split 9: 60-62). Parks has also “hemmed 8,230 skirts “for white women and hemmed out “18,809 pants legs” for white boys.
Environment can have an enormous influence on identity and for Anne Moody we saw how her experiences put a burden on herself. Growing up in rural Mississippi at a time where racism was highly recognized, Anne Moody was categorized just like every other black woman in her community, working for the white people trying to meet ends meet, powerless, uneducated and running after men and having babies. Her mother was a prime example of the stereotypical black woman during that time, having many kids, her husband leaving her for another woman, getting into a relationship with another man, uneducated and slaving over jobs to provide for her children. Reading this novel, I saw the identity of Anne Moody’s mother deteriorating, from Anne’s childhood
Walker’s abusive actions reveal her controlling nature and motivations. She yearns for power over others as “…she urged her husband to comply with the black man’s terms and secure what would make them wealthy for life.” (Irving, 2010, p. 233) Mrs. Walker also craves jurisdiction over money, as she takes their valuables as a sort of insurance.
“Night” by Ellie Wiesel is a memoir of Ellie’s years during the Holocaust at the Nazi’s concentration camps. The book is his true story telling about the death of his friends and family,what he encountered, and how he started to lose faith in God. Ellie experienced many instances of dehumanization like when the Germans threw bread, and when he was cruelly punished.
Alice Walker uses imagery and diction throughout her short story to tell the reader the meaning of “The Flowers”. The meaning of innocence lost and people growing up being changed by the harshness of reality. The author is able to use the imagery to show the difference between innocence and the loss of it. The setting is also used to show this as well.
The speaker is uneducated, so the writing in the first person is readable for beginners as well as educated adults. Walker addresses the audience specifically to to create deeper imagery, where the audience can add their own experiences to the story, such as “You’ve no doubt seen those TV shows” (46). The speaker directly addresses the audience, and so anyone reading the story, whether a minority, or the majority, will be connected to the story. Purpose: Walker describes the impact of oppression on the relationship between mother and daughter, and how the oppressed view themselves.
As a College freshman in his second semester, I have learned to deal with the challenges that I have to deal with peaceful, yet exhilarating moment when my mind engages with an author’s thoughts on a page. As John Dewey states “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” What Dewey insists is from my early days in high school to my first year in college as a freshman, I wanted to know the full concept of English; however, I have now realized this subject would fill in my void of English with noteworthy complexities. This was not the case for most of my second semester in Montgomery College; I always had trouble in various parts of the subject, such as development in thesis statement, sentence writing and reflecting on previous essays.
Black women are treated less than because of their ascribed traits, their gender and race, and are often dehumanized and belittled throughout the movie. They are treated like slaves and are seen as easily disposable. There are several moments throughout the film that show the racial, gender, and class inequalities. These moments also show exploitation and opportunity hoarding. The Help also explains historical context of the inequality that occurred during that time period.
Afro-American women writers present how racism permeates the innermost recesses of the mind and heart of the blacks and affects even the most intimate human relationships. While depicting the corrosive impact of racism from social as well as psychological perspectives, they highlight the human cost black people have to pay in terms of their personal relationships, particularly the one between mother and daughter. Women novelists’ treatment of motherhood brings out black mothers’ pressures and challenges for survival and also reveals their different strategies and mechanisms to deal with these challenges. Along with this, the challenges black mothers have to face in dealing with their adolescent daughters, who suffer due to racism and are heavily influenced by the dominant value system, are also underlined by these writers. They portray how a black mother teaches her daughter to negotiate the hostile, wider world, and prepares her to face the problems and challenges boldly and confidently.
She was influenced by the ideologies of women’s liberation movements and she speaks as a Black woman in a world that still undervalues the voice of the Black woman. Her novels especially lend themselves to feminist readings because of the ways in which they challenge the cultural norms of gender, slavery, race, and class. In addition to that, Morrison novels discuss the experiences of the oppressed black minorities in isolated communities. The dominant white culture disables the development of healthy African-American women self image and also she pictures the harsh conditions of black women, without separating them from the oppressed situation of the whole minority. In fact, slavery is an ancient and heinous institution which had adverse effects on the sufferers at both the physical as well as psychological levels.