October 23, 2012
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
I lived in Portland from the time I was two until age seven. Then my mother married a man who moved us to his parents’ farm in Oklahoma. My stepfather was an alcoholic. He was mean and critical, especially to me. The only person who seemed to have my interests at heart was Nonie, my stepfather’s mother. My mother was preoccupied with my newborn brother and my little sisters. I was like Maggie. I was shy. I would look at the ground when I walked. I did not want anyone to notice me. I kept to myself as much as I could in the crowded little farmhouse where we lived with my stepfather’s parents. Nonie would seek me out. She gave me chores to do. She also started to teach me to play the piano. Anything she could do to alleviate my unhappiness is what she did. I loved this woman unconditionally. I think Maggie and her mother had this kind of relationship. They trusted each other.
Nonie noticed my moods and started talking to me about why I was so unhappy. Because I trusted her completely, I listened to her. She advised me to read a book. She said books could take me anywhere I wanted to go, which was anywhere but where I was. I took her advice and started checking out books from the school library. I feel that is why I always read when times are difficult for me, or when I am unhappy with situations in my life that I have no control over. I also identify With Dee/Wangero. She read relentlessly to her mother and sister. I don’t blame her for wanting better for herself. I wanted better because of the environment I was growing up in. She had no control over her life and circumstances and I had no control over mine. I thought if I could do better, then that is what I should strive for. She got better a good education because the church people helped send her away to school. I think reading to her mother and Maggie was the road to her...