Everyday Use by Alice Walker an Analysis

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Tamica Powell
September 30, 2011

Everyday Use Analysis

Everyday Use is a compelling story of a mother's conflicting relationships with her two daughters. Maggie, which the mother feels contains more practical and traditional ways of living life and then Dee her oldest and most promising daughter, who she feels has broken away from tradition and has lost a lot of their heritage. At first glance you would see this as the normal mother daughter spat of maybe the wild child versus the little miss do right. This story holds a much deeper and important meaning. Everyday use tells the struggle to keep hold of African American culture in the late 1960’s early 1970’s, when most African Americans were searching for their roots. Many African Americans abandoned the thought of also being an American; they were separating themselves and only claiming the African heritage. The Author Alice Walker contends that African Americans are just that African and American, and that to neglect part of your heritage is unethical. Mama’s character is the one who defines the meaning of African American culture, in the beginning of the story mama shows envy and also resentment towards her daughter Dee’s candid but overall superficial ways. Dee is portrayed as a bright, intelligent and outspoken individual with all the eccentricities of the black power movement. Mama’s character shows love for her daughter but also hatred for her new found identity. Mama at one point in the story imagines her and Dee being reunited on a talk show and the scene playing out like most would, with lots of tears and embraces of love. But even before she imagines this pleasant scene mama says”…What would they do if parent and child came on the show only to curse out and insult each other”? Mamas envy is also expressed through a thought were she truthfully admits that she could not look “a strange man in the eye”, referring to Johnny Carson hosting the reunion show and then goes on to say “Dee,...
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