Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"

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1) The theme of “Everyday Use” is about heritage, culture, redemption, and one’s “link between herself and that place she came from.” ( lecture notes – “Everyday Use”) The author Alice Walker tells the story of a southern black family consisting of momma, (the narrator) and two daughters, Dee, pretty and educated, who left home to go out into the world, and Maggie, who has burn scars, homely, and somewhat uneducated and how their lives are reflected on each other as they quarrel over who gets possession of an old family quilt. The quilt is used to represent the fragmentation of the family. The symbolic value of the quilt is what becomes the source or climatic ending of the story. In reference to the author, “the quilt represents her story, history, and tradition, binding women, and men, to the past and the past to the present.” (notes) Dee sees the quilt only for its monetary value, whereas momma and Maggie see the quilt for its family value, a representation of their family past, since its pieces were made from their ancestors clothing and uniforms. Momma sides with Maggie because Dee has insulted Maggie and in-turn momma too when she says, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!..She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.” (notes) The author uses questions of value, representation, and of economy to show the differences in the two daughters. While momma loves both daughters, the one that stayed home with her, the one that is more like her, the one who appreciates home, is the one she ultimately sides with. 2) I like the second essay. It seemed to more clearly define why Dee was so against her own heritage. David Cowart makes clear the attitude of Dee when he simply says, “The story concerns a young woman who, in the course of a visit to the rural home she thinks she has outgrown… (lecture notes), or “Wangero has realized the dream of the oppressed: she has escaped the ghetto.” (lecture notes) I think the reason momma sides with Maggie can...
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