February 14, 2013
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker uses different characters to explore the shift in values of women’s role in society. As Wangero’s change of culture and appearance forms into a strange being that sticks out from the simple life of Mama and Maggie, it becomes clear how time and space transforms one’s family values as well. The opposition causes Wangero to lose her identity and place in the family; therefore, Walker’s usage of first person narratives suggests that one might lose the true meaning of heritage, but his or her life improves socially by the modification of time
The description of Wangero and Mama’s personality and physical appearance reflect the era they both represent. Wangero, the new generation, appreciates heritage by perceiving things the way they are on the outside. Just like the flashy development of the modern time, she enjoys associating her background with African culture, and this flamboyant ideal Wangero brings “hurts” Mama’s eyes (Walker 28). On the other hand, Mama’s physical appearance is described as how a “large, big-boned woman” she is, but she feels that Wangero would want her to be “hundred pounds lighter” (Walker 24). Although this is very biased due to the fact that this is first person narrative, Mama ultimately believes that as a country woman in comparison to the new era Wangero is from, she will be perceived and judged by her physical appearance. Both of the characters physical appearances connect with their generation of time. Wangero correlates with her time because of the rise of technology and education that is given, her generation is seen as bright enough to outshine and “hurt” the older generation. On the other hand, Mama’s era is the opposite because how she looks to others in not a concern for her. Unlike Wangero, Mama’s values does not hold materialistically because she presents things as they are, not what she wants people to think.