Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker
A Short Story Criticism

Alice Walker is a prominent African-American author who uses her art to depict the struggles of members of her race, especially those of the females. In her short story "Everyday Use" Walker weaves together a story about African heritage and its role in one family's life. The reader is introduced to the women in the family, Mama, whose eyes the story is told through, and her two dramatically different daughters, Maggie and Dee. Walker uses detailed character and setting description to colorfully show how each member of the family relates to and portrays their heritage. Walker is able to vividly accomplish this by drawing upon her own upbringing and trials and tribulations as an African American female in the mid to late twentieth century. It is clear that Walker uses her own experiences and feelings on African heritage to develop the characters and setting in "Everyday Use".

This story takes place in a small, rural southern area. Through Mama's eyes the reader is shown the family's house and yard, as well as all of the family heirlooms covering the grounds. All of these things are factors of the story's setting and relate directly to the family's heritage. Through this setting a feeling of tradition and home is created that seems particular to this family, especially to Mama. Mama and her daughters are a poor family who never had much and do not expect much from life. Their family house consists of "three rooms…the roof is tin….there are no real windows, just some hole cut in the side with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside" (Walker, 90). Walker also highlights the fact that all of the household items that are used for everyday chores have been in the family for generations. While some of the items may seem trivial and unimpressive to an outsider, these items signify all that this family's heritage is about. They have always worked hard for what they have and value everything for its worth,...
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