"Everyday Use" was published early in Alice Walker's writing career, appearing in her collection In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women in 1973. The work was enthusiastically reviewed upon publication, and "Everyday Use" has since been called by some critics the best of Walker's short stories. In letting a rural black woman with little education tell a story that affirms the value of her heritage, Walker articulates what has since become, as critic Barbara Christian notes, two central themes in her writing: "the importance of the quilt in her work ... [and] the creation of African American Southern women as subjects in their own right." When Mrs. Johnson snatches her ancestors' quilts from her daughter Dee, who wants to hang them on a wall, and gives them to Maggie, Walker illuminates her life-long celebration of rural Southern black womanhood. The motif of quilting has since become central to Walker's concerns, because it suggests the strength to be found in connecting with one's roots and one's past. As with many other stories by Walker, "Everyday Use" is narrated by the unrefined voice of a rural black woman, in the author's attempt to give a voice to a traditionally disenfranchised segment of the population.Mama decides that she will wait in the yard for her daughter Dee’s arrival. Mama knows that her other daughter, Maggie, will be nervous throughout Dee’s stay, self-conscious of her scars and burn marks and jealous of Dee’s much easier life. Mama fantasizes about reunion scenes on television programs in which a successful daughter embraces the parents who have made her success possible. Sometimes Mama imagines reuniting with Dee in a similar scenario, in a television studio where an amiable host brings out a tearful Dee, who pins orchids on Mama’s dress. Whereas Mama is sheepish about the thought of looking a white man in the eye, Dee is more assertive. Mama’s musing is interrupted by Maggie’s shuffling arrival in the yard. Mama...
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