Literary Criticism of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker

Topics: Short story, Family, Mother Pages: 4 (1499 words) Published: March 18, 2011
Paper on "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker
Cross Cultural Literature
The book "Approaching Literature in the 21st Century" by Peter Shackel and Jack Ridl is filled with various themes involving parents and their children. There are three specific stories that focus on mothers and daughters that I will use for this paper. The stories are Daughter of Invention by Julia Alvarez, Everyday Use by Alice Walker and Two Kinds by Amy Tan. These stories are similar in many ways in general, like they all involve a mother who has influenced her daughter’s life or involve a parent and their child. From another perspective though, all three stories are very different in regards to the individual relationships that each mother/daughter pair has. I will try to show how these stories reflect an aspect of living that most can relate to, like mother's and daughter's, and yet also show the difference that comes from each person being created a bit differerent within this interrelatedness. In plain English this would mean, how we are all alike and yet how we are all unique.

In showing similarities with these three stories and their use of the mother/daughter theme, Everyday Use shows us a hard-working African American mother and her two very different daughters, one who is meek and shy and the other who is arrogant and judgmental of her family. The audience knows that the mother loves her daughter’s because of the intimate way that only a mother would know her daughter. The mother speaks of her daughter Dee’s homecoming after being away saying, “I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon…Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mix of envy and awe.”(p101). Two Kinds, by Amy tan shows us a single child whose Asian American mother had big dreams for her success which ultimately...
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