In the short story “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker shows the conflicts and struggles with people of the African-American culture in America. The author focuses on the members of the Johnson family, who are the main characters. In the family there are 2 daughters and a mother. The first daughter is named Maggie, who had been injured in a house fire has been living with her mom. Her older sister is Dee, who grew up with natural beauty wanted to have a better life than her mother and sister.The author used symbolism throughout the whole story to show the difference between these characters. The symbolism is there to give us a further explanation on the family and also to tell us how much heritage is important to some, but not others.
Alice walker in Everyday Use demonstrates the understanding of African American heritage. Understanding your heritage is important because you should always look back on where you came from. Where you came from is such a big part of who you are and is something know one can take away from you. When you understand your heritage, you get to pass it on to others. Walker does this by using characterization, symbolism, and theme.
In the short story, “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker defines and explores the concept of heritage in the African- American culture. The story was first published in nineteen seventy three as part of the short story collection, In Love and Trouble. “Everyday Use” tells the story of a mother and her two daughters who have conflicting ideas with their heritage and culture. The oldest daughter, Dee, is an educated young women who redefines her identity and beliefs of her heritage. On the contrary, the youngest daughter, Maggie, leads a traditional lifestyle in the South with her mother and remains faithful to her idea of heritage. The author of the short story, Alice Walker, shares several parallels between her own life and this story. Kathleen Wilson, award winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship
Family memories not only hold us together during the tough times but also provide a foundation especially when enhanced by a mother's love. Some people are able to appreciate their family heritage, while others do not recognize or take it for granted. In the poem "My Mother Pieced Quilts" by Teresa Acosta and the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, both authors use figurative language and imagery to establish the quilt as a symbol for a mother's love and respecting family heritage to illustrate their themes.
The story Everyday Use was written by Alice walker. Alice walker was an American author, poet and activist. She has written many novels, poems and stories. She wrote both fiction and nonfiction books. Everyday use was one of her books and it was published in 1973. This story talks about a family that consists of the mother (narrator) and her two daughters’ (Dee and Maggie). In the story they never say anything about the father because he was dead. The main things that the story is revolving around is the heritage and how it is important, the relationship between the two sisters, how education makes a differences, and finally about how generations changed by time.
The short story, Everyday Use, is written by Alice Walker. This short story tells about the narrator, mama, and her daughter Maggie wait for a visit from Dee, mama’s older daughter. Throughout this short story, the reader can see the distraught relationship between mama and Dee. The reader can see how Dee is different than mama and Maggie; she thinks that she knows way more about her heritage than mama and Maggie, when she really does not. In the short story, Everyday Use, Walker uses imagery, symbolism, and point of view to show that heritage can only be understood when one is true to their roots.
Dee has always been ashamed of her African culture and family. Dee would prefer that her mother and sister look different and that her home would be nicer. Her mother always knew how Dee felt about her, “My daughter would want me to be a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake. But that is a mistake” (par. 6). Dee has returned from college to visit her family, but with a different attitude. In attempts to reconnect with her African roots, Dee has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. Dee has also taken an interest in embracing her African heritage and has dressed in traditional African clothes to visit her mother. Her mother knows that Dee’s intentions are not genuine. Worrying more about taking pictures of her mother and collecting items that represent the African culture to take back home, Dee neglects to spend time with her family. Her mother notices that Dee, “Lines up picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me. She never takes a shot without making sure the house is included” (par. 22). Dee’s mother realizes that she is trying to be someone she is not. Before leaving to college Dee’s mother had given her a quilt to take with her, but Dee was too embarrassed of it to take it. Now, Dee has asked her mother for it. Infuriated, her mother decided to stop Dee from continuing to
Dee is a girl who lived with her mom and her sister Maggie, but she wasn’t like them at all, she was different than her sister and her mother. Mama was collecting money to take Dee to school in Augusta. Dee liked to be fashionable, she always wanted nice things.
In “Everyday Use,” two sister Dee and Maggie have different views on how they should preserve and honor their heritage. The story is told from the point of view of their mother, Ms. Johnson, and it is from her that we learn about the difference in the sister’s characters. Dee, who changes her name to Wangero, is outspoken and is the educated sister. Maggie is shy and appears to be ashamed of the burns on her skin. “[Maggie] thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that ‘no’ is a word the world would never learn to say to her” (Walker 6). This is important because, in the end, Dee does not get her way. Dee is the educated
“Dee” does not share in the recognition and reverence of their culture even though her mother does. She describes this type of culture as a fragile heritage and she points out the aspect of clothing and design as a reason. She considers the dress code by her grandfather and mother an outdated mode of living. Dee wants to go by the current standards of life and she cannot have a second thought about this. Being an African American she comes out strongly to condemn the oppression that the blacks underwent in the hands of the whites. She makes this factor a pillar for her argument saying that she cannot be identified with a name that originates from people who oppressed them and still oppress them. In other words, Dee is speaking from a vengeance point of view, “I couldn’t bare it any longer, being named after people who oppress me” (Everyday use p.53) and via this she now helps us to understand the reason as to why she dropped her original name and took another. This step seems satisfactory for her but in real sense it is betrayal to her own heritage, we can say that she is fighting a lost battle. Walker (1973) gives Dee a character that is full of ignorance and arrogance and by doing so she is able to achieve the theme of betrayal of heritage. Through displaying her arrogance and ignorance betrayal is then brought out clearly right from the family level and even the church which ensured became a better person in the future. This has brought a conflict between her, the mother and her sister because she sees them as enemies of her progress and yet they are the people who pioneered her future life by ensuring that they use every means possible to ensure that she is in school. The use of rhetorical question by Walker (1973) enables us to comprehend her major concern while writing this short story, “Who shall inherit the quilts?” (Walker 1973) this question shows that the
The setting of Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” reveals important aspects about the family in many ways. Without the enriched setting provided to the reader by Walker, this story would have had no foundation on which to be built.
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,
A simple powerful story of a rural family that contains a returned changed daughter leaves a family in surprise. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker demonstrates that the theme of the story that consists different views of heritage by using literary elements like characterization, imagery, and settings. Each literary element holds a strong value to define the meaning of heritage from different perspectives of the characters. Alice Walker demonstrates it by Mama, Maggie, and Dee by how they each value their heritage by the things that they have left from their ancestors.
Everyday Use and Sula are coming of age stories. They both illustrate times in people’s lives when they have to decide to how they are going to live with their past and themselves.
In the short story “Everyday Use” Alice Walker takes the reader through a world that was in the midst of a radical change. A time when new affluence was coming to a generation of African Americans. Walker’s generation knew nothing but hardships, and they had to make due with whatever they happened to have around. Therefore, many of the items which Dee and Maggie see in the course of the story have radically different meanings. Dee, having had the advantage of leaving home to go to college, had her life changed by the lifestyle she was introduced to in the city. When she came home again, her view of the items which Maggie and her mother considered as everyday use items had taken on a whole new meaning to her, she now saw them as artifacts instead of things which were useful. This new outlook on her life caused Dee to place different values on the items with which she had grown up. She wanted to take the items as things to put on display like art hanging on a wall. Dee even wanted the cherished quilts to “hang them” (Walker, 1973) instead of using them as blankets. As she saw it, to use the quilts for their original purpose would destroy them, or as she said, “Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they 'd be in rags” (Walker, 1973). This is a scenario that has played out many times over the course of human history. Things which have only a utilitarian value to the present generation, take on an aura of