“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. While narrating the life of an Afro-American mother and her …show more content…
A constant comparison and contrast between Maggie and Dee is prominent structural feature of the narrative. This structural strategy helps in conceptualizing the plurality of female experience within the same milieu. This strategy encapsulates another dimension of womanism, viz., womanism refuses to treat black woman as a homogeneous monolith. Unlike feminist position, womanism is sensitive to change with time. This womanist conceptualization is shown by a nuanced destruction by Dee’s response to the quilt, which is the main metaphor in the story. A typical political rhetoric is represented in the character of Dee. This is a rhetoric which is more aggressive than mature, showier than subtle. Dee ends up in simplifying and commodifying culture, instead of relating it to any meaningful way. She comes out as a being who takes activism as a fad rather than a commitment. And, womanism here represented through Mama, calls for a critical relatedness to the heritage. The narrative articulates the shallowness of Dee’s …show more content…
Having done so, she goes on to highlight the ‘womanist’ culture. Afro-American tradition, for Mama, is symbolized by churn. It is a tradition of bonding, of mutual nurturance. Similarly, the symbol of quilt for Mama is not just a utilitarian item but a living tradition. Alice Walker, in fact, uses the imagery of the quilt to suggest what womanism is all about. Dee approaches culture by decontextualising it, while Maggie and Mama relate to it with a kind of ‘organic criticality’. The former stance is mere rhetoric and the later one is womanist. In one of her interviews, Alice Walker identifies three cycles of Black Woman she would explore in her woman’s writing: 1. First are those “who were cruelly exploited, spirits and bodies mutilated, relegated to the narrowest and confining lives, sometimes driven to madness”. 2. Second are those who are not much physically but psychically abused as a result of wanting desperately to participate in mainstream American
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The novels' portrayal of gender is more nuanced than their portrayal of race. The novels delve deeply into the intricacies of gender identity, including the intersections of gender, sexuality, and motherhood. The novels also highlight how gender influences relationships and social dynamics within communities. In contrast, while race is an essential factor in the novels, it is not as nuanced as the portrayal of gender. The novels highlight the experiences of Black people and their struggles in a racially oppressive society.
Characterization in “Everyday use” In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker creates the characters of Mom, Maggie, and Dee in order to explore the appreciation and values of African American culture and what it stands for. The story grows around one daughter Dee coming back home to visit her family. As one is introduced to the characters in “Everyday Use”, it becomes noticeable that the two sisters, Maggie and Dee, are very different. Maggie is portrayed as a homely and ignorant girl, while Dee is portrayed as a beautiful and educated woman.
Zora Neale Hurston addressed African American life many years before Alice Walker did. Looking at “Everyday Use” and “Sweat,” discuss the similarities and differences you find in their treatment of women and what, in the end, if anything has changed. Don’t forget to note the subtleties….. Even though Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker wrote many years apart they have many similarities in their writing.
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.
Judith Butler’s Gender Troubles emphasizes gender as the constant repetition of non-existent ideals to uphold a masculine-dominant culture. Likewise, “Body Politics” highlights this belief within the overtly feminine qualities of city women. As a whole, the poem contrasts idealized feminine “city women” with a “real woman” who possesses both feminine and masculine qualities. The mother figure challenges both the gender binary and the patriarchal order by rejecting the feminine gender norms of the society. This feminist reading of the poem makes many valuable and probable claims, however the feminist approach contains some weaknesses.
Then we are on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes.” Her dream shows how the mother dreams of a better relationship with her daughter than the one she has. Dee seems to be embarrassed by her mother and where she comes from. The author shows this when she talks about the burning of their house. She seemed happy to see her house burn down, “Why don’t you do a dance around the ashes?
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.
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.
Alice Walker wrote what Mama said about Dee or Wangero, “Dee wanted nice things.” Mama describes Dee as a lavish person who is only interested in herself and her fulfilling’s. Dee had changed her name to show that she is not accepting that a “white person” named her ancestors in way, so it can be passed down. Walker describes Mama as someone who is satisfied with what they have. “I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon,” Walker demonstrates how Mama is pleased with nature where her life takes place in.
As the mother is telling Dee that she cannot have the quilts, she shows her surprise when Dee "gasps like a bee had stung her" (64). By using this simile, the mother shows her revulsion at the new and artificial personality her daughter has adopted. As the family talks over dinner, the mother states about Dee that "she talked a blue streak over the sweet potatoes" (62). Dee is complimenting her mother's food, yet immediately afterwards, she asks for a churn top, a dasher, and some old quilts that she had not wanted recently before. This metaphor tells the reader that the compliments Dee gave her were empty and fake.
To be specific, she situates the imminent feminist struggle by highlighting the legacy of slavery among black people, and black women in particular. “Black women bore the terrible burden of equality in oppression” (Davis). Due to her race, her writing focuses on what she understood and ideas that are relevant to black females. Conversely, since white men used black women in domestic labor and forcefully rape these individuals. These men used this powerful weapon to remind black women of their female and vulnerability.
As she looks at her quilts, Mama remembers that a certain patch came from her grandfather's paisley shirts, that some pieces came from dresses that Grandma Dee wore 50 years earlier, and even that there was a very small piece of her great-grandfather's Civil War uniform. From this, we can all see how and why they mean so much to her. To Dee, the quilts are a quaint "primitive" art. To Mama and Maggie, they represent more than that. They are family memories, very personal and very special mementos of loved ones who are gone.
Dee doesn’t truly know what her culture represents, but instead she tries to use everything from college to apply to everyday life. Dee never appreciated her roots as a child, and she still don’t. Mama and Maggie used the churnand dasher daily with care, and all Dee wants to do with the churn and dasher is “think of something artistic to do with it” ( Walker 273.) She sees the churn as a project she can work on; on the other hand Mama and Maggie see it as a churn with a lot of meaning behind it. Maggie and Mama cherish the handmade quilts that were made by Grandma Dee.
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. Alice walker gave the mother an important character in the story and she tried to show us how the father has a very important part of any family.
Growing up together under the same conditions clearly created two very distinct individuals with contrasting views regarding their past, present, and future. When Dee arrives home from college, she portrayed herself as higher class; she put herself above her family and her past. During her visit, she was looking for valuable things to have in her home. While looking around, Dee notices two handmade quilts containing pieces of clothe that date back to the Civil War.