My Evaluative Essay on "Everyday Use" and “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"

Topics: Sherman Alexie, O. Henry Award, American Writers Pages: 3 (1113 words) Published: June 17, 2011
In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”, tradition and culture play a big part in the story’s theme; tradition and culture also play a big part in Sherman Alexie’s “This Is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona.” The effects that culture and tradition had in “Everyday Use” were similar to Sherman Alexie’s story but the ways that they were displayed were not the same. In many ways, “Everyday Use” showed the effect that culture had on its’ characters mainly Dee. Through the stories Thomas-Builds-the-Fire tells, tradition and culture have a similar effect on Victor. Both Dee and Victor were affected negatively by their surroundings. Whether it’s Dee becoming her own person or Victor struggling to find his identity, culture and tradition have huge roles in each story. As a reader, tradition and culture stood out as key components in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”. From the first page on, these two components made “Everyday Use” the story that it was. For example, the narrator explains that “In real life I’m a large, big-boned woman with rough, man working hands. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man” (590). This quote explained how much of a hard working woman the narrator was and it explained the type of culture she lived in because only rural families kill and clean hogs. It showed how the narrator took pride in what she could do which was part of her own culture. Tradition in “Everyday Use” was symbolized by the family’s quilt. This quilt stood for so much because there were pieces of clothing on it from all of the family members of past generations. For example, “In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s Paisley shirts” (594-595). The tradition of this quilt meant a lot to the family. The quilt was meant to be put to “everyday use” which was a portion of the quilt’s tradition. These were some of the reasons why Dee wasn’t able to have the quilt. Not only did tradition and culture...
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