Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”

Topics: Short story, Fiction, Quilting Pages: 2 (757 words) Published: June 24, 2012
Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” In the short story "Everyday Use", by Alice Walker, tension between characters is evident. When Dee arrives home to visit Mama and Maggie, readers can see the differences in personality between the three characters. Dee has changed her name to "Wangero" to get closer to her so-called “culture” and is collecting many objects of her past that she did not want before. On her mother’s savings for her, Dee is able to go to college and therefore is more educated. However, she uses this new knowledge to look down on Maggie and Mama. One of the many objects of her past that Dee asks for is a quilt passed down to the females of the next generation. Instead, Mama wants Maggie to have the quilt being that she always used kept the quilt to remind herself of her family. Walker shows how important heritage is through conflict, irony, and symbol. The main conflict of the story is between the three main characters, of course. Dee visits the barn, built by Mama, where she was raised and begins showing off and taking pictures of the one place she hated growing up, not paying any attention to Maggie and Mama. This is the first sign of conflict as the story opens. Another is how Dee wants the butter churn, the one which Mama uses every day to make butter, and looks at it as if it were a piece of art.. It seems that Dee was always spoiled while growing up, and no one ever tried to stop it. Since Dee has gone of to college she uses her knowledge to look down on Maggie and Mama. She cannot understand how they can live in such a filthy place. When Mama gives Maggie the quilt it shows that Mama does understand the importance of heritage. It is better to use the quilts as a memory of the family rather than a piece of art hanging on the wall. Walker shows how important heritage is through the use of irony. One way is how Dee changes her name to Wangero and when asked about it she replies by saying, “She’s dead. I couldn’t bare...
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