'Symbolism In Everyday Use' By Alice Walker

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In Alice Walker’s short story Everyday Use, readers are given a look inside the thoughts of Ms. Johnson as she is reunited with her daughter Dee or “Wangero” as she now calls herself. What makes this short story thought provoking is the way Walker depicts Ms. Johnson’s reaction to Dee’s new found identity and new found appreciation for a life she once despised. Ms. Johnson noted that as a child, Dee hated their previous home which burned down years ago: this also resulted in Maggie’s burn scars. The purpose of this essay is to explore the symbolism embodied in the family’s yard, Maggie’s burn scars, the trunk with quilts and Dee’s Polaroid camera. It is obvious in this story that Dee has untasteful intentions for the use of her family’s heritage for vain purposes. However, Dee’s mother insists that it remains in the family home regardless of…show more content…
Johnson. The family’s yard serves a haven for hosting guests rather than an embarrassing shanty, little home. The yard in this story is praised and referred to as an extension of the house. In her short story Everyday Use, Alice Walker states, “[A]nyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree for the breezes that never come inside the house” (427). This can give the reader the impression that even the breeze would not want to set foot into the Johnson’s home. The yard itself bares a deeper meaning that often times black families were also poor and had to be resourceful. Despite the family yard lacking lush green grass, it still makes for a very splendid gathering place. According to, David Cowart, research Heritage and Deracination in Walker’s Everyday Use, states “a description of which opens the story-is another symbol of cultural something produced out of nothing by people lacking everything” (175). This is synonymous with the idea of black families having to be able to make the best out of virtually nothing in order to get
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