Everyday Use By Mama Johnson Character Analysis

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Character Analysis of the Women in “Everyday Use” In Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use”, the author examines three female characters for the purpose of illustrating the different types of influences African American history had on women living during the twentieth century. The short story was published at the end of the Civil Rights Movement, which attempted to seek equality for minorities, including African American women (Bankston). While the movement did seek progressive change and advocated for important rights regarding equality, it also promoted social unrest and contributed to the division of American society that began after the unifying times of the 1950s. As a result, some African American women continued to be impacted…show more content…
Mama Johnson rejects society’s expectations of her as a woman and supports equality by evaluating the significance of her cultural background in relation to American history. She has great appreciation of her ancestry and origin, which is shown through her desire to save the quilts for Maggie, the daughter that understands the beauty of the family’s heritage. The quilts symbolize the female empowerment that was a result of the struggles African Americans experienced, which promoted a desire for change. Although Mama Johnson does not make reference to the progress generally associated with women’s rights activists, she does believe that African American women should have equal opportunity to men, which is shown through her masculine physical and behavioral traits. Other African American women who were influenced by suffragists shared similar viewpoints, which motivated them to advocate for gender…show more content…
By addressing three important events in the twentieth century, which include reconstruction, The Suffrage Movement, and The Black Power Movement, Walker is able to shape the values of her leading female roles. She emphasizes the importance of heritage to African American women and how each individual has a different perspective of their background based on the impacts of history. While Mama Johnson and Maggie are impacted significantly through the Reconstruction era and early concerns about women’s rights, Dee lacks genuine concern for her history which results in her blindly following the Black Power Movement with her Muslim companion. Walker illustrates her characters in this manner to suggest that women who have a true understanding of American history are capable of relating to their heritage, which can result in a great appreciation of life. In contrast, women who are unable to understand their history because they are too influenced by materialistic things or irrelevant concepts lack a large portion of who they are as individuals. Understanding history through the perspective of those who experienced significant events offers women the ability to comprehend the importance of their genetic lineages, which can result in a peaceful, fulfilling
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