Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Better Essays
Sarah Benesh
Dr. Susan Dauer
English 1102
2 Febuary 2011 Analyzation of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker In 1972, Alice Walker published “Everyday Use” in a collection of short stories In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black women. As better known “Everyday Use” stood out of the collection, it has become one of few short stories about the conflict black Americans faced after the Civil Rights Movement; The struggle to maintain traditions, whilst embracing new-found freedom, and where the two worlds collided. Discussing the reoccurring themes, symbols and motifs through the narrator’s perception, and actions will reveal if the character, and ultimately the reader himself has grown or remained static in affect of the conflict. As stated above, once the Civil Rights movement ended and black Americans received the rights equal to a white American, a conflict between the old world and the new world collided. The assimilation of black Americans into the American way of life, the struggle to uphold traditions, and the quest to return to original African culture is a theme in “Everyday Use”. The narrator’s, “Mama”, perception of the world is small, in contrast to her daughter’s, “Dee”. When Dee returns, she has attempted to re-forge her African based culture and dismiss her history and “The people who oppress me” (Walker 454). She arrives bejeweled in gold, flaunting a flashy yellow African style dress, alongside her assumed boyfriend “Asalamalikim”. The ignorance of Mama of this being a term in Arabic meaning “Peace be upon you” (Anthology 454), which instead she mistakes as his name, displays the differentiation between Mama and Dee’s exposure to the world. The way in which she chose to fashion herself exudes the fact that she has no real understanding of African culture, and she is in favor of the American simulated construction of African culture. The quilts become a symbol of the collaboration of their family histories into tangible evidence in “Everyday



Cited: Cuizon, Gwendolyn. “Everyday Use by Alice Walker” Views of Culture and Heritage. Suite 101. Febuary 10, 2009. Web. 2011. Kirszner & Mandell. “Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing”. 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 2010, 2007. Print.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Name: Sarif Udavar Mohammed Nazaaf Course: EN110-44 Composition and Literature Date: 1/5/2014 Everyday Use- Alice Walker Mrs. Johnson’s narration is honest and forthright. The reader sees the story”Everyday Use” by Alice Walker through Mama’s eyes. Dee and Maggie,Mama’s daughters do not make life any easier for her. Throughout the story, the element of surprise is kept going by not mentioning her full name. As the narrator, Mrs. Johnson provides information about her life and the differences between…

    • 360 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    "Everyday Use" The story "Everyday Use", written by Alice Walker, is a story of heritage, pride, and learning what kind of person you really are. In the exposition, the story opens with background information about Dee and Maggie's life, which is being told by Mama. The reader learns that Dee was the type of child that got everything and had everything that she wanted, while Maggie was the complete opposite. The crisis, which occurs later in the story, happens when Dee all of a sudden comes home…

    • 632 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Lost Heritage Alice Walker illustrates the significance of heritage in material objects by contrasting the family members in the story "Everyday Use". Walker uses Mama and Maggie, the youngest of the two sisters, as an example that heritage travels from one generation to another through experience and learning. However, Dee, the oldest daughter, possesses a misconception of heritage as material. During Dee's visit, contrast of characters becomes a conflict. Dee says that the mother does not understand…

    • 1103 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Alice Walker Everyday Use

    • 809 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Evaluation/Analysis on Alice Walker: Everyday Use Introduction/Evaluation Alice Walker, an African American author and activist born in Eatonton, Georgia in 1944 (p. 69). Walker was like most African Americans in her time raised by hard-working underpaid parents, this is reflected in her writing. Alice Walker and her now removed husband were the first interracial couple in Mississippi. Once a poet, Walker worked with other influential authors including Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. Everyday Use tells the…

    • 809 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Analyzing Characters in Fiction: Everyday Use by Alice Walker Nathaniel Rodgers English Comp. II Professor Linda Loring August 26, 2013 In this essay I will be analyzing the character in the Fiction Everyday Use by Alice Walker. This was is an excellent short story that takes place in the rural southern parts of America. The exact location of this story is not made known to the reader but subtle clues such as jargon used, description of the environment, and content of the conversation…

    • 1022 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    inherited, passed down from generations to generations. It includes inherited traditions, objects, culture, customs and practices. In the short story “Everyday Use”, Alice Walker explores this aspect of heritage with emphasize on the value of cultural heritage in the African American community in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s. The setting of “Everyday Use” took place in post-civil era when the African Americans were trying to find their own identity, which resulted to the formation of The Black Power…

    • 1569 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Alice Walker's short story "Everyday use" tells the story of a mother and her daughter's conflicting ideas about their identities and heritage. Mrs. Johnson an uneducated woman narrates the story of the day one daughter, Dee, visits from college. Mrs. Johnson auto-describes herself as a "big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands."(180,Walker). Contrasting her auto-description, she describes Dee as a young lady with light complexion, nice hair and full figure that "wanted nice things."(181,Walker)…

    • 1181 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker is about two sisters and a mother. Despite the family being poor, the mother works hard to provide for the both of her daughters. Dee is the eldest daughter and despises where she came from. Dee later on gains an education, attends college, and obtains a degree all because her mother and the community raised enough money to send her to school in Augusta. In the story she is going through an identity crisis and changes her name to "Wanegro." On the…

    • 1053 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In "Everyday Use," the author Alice Walker tells the story of a mother and her two daughters' conflicting ideas about their identites and heritage. She demonstrates different sides of culture and heritage through the characters of Mama, Dee, and Maggie whom portray different opinions on the qualities and outlooks of life. The author uses the conflict to make the point that the make up of an object or of a person is more important than the looks. In Alice Walker's story "Everyday Use," she uses the…

    • 883 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    "In Search of our Mother's Garden" is a non-fiction piece of prose that reveals how Alice Walker feels about family heritage. Thus, in "Everyday Use", Walker's harsh treatment of Dee is justified. "In Search of our Mother's Garden" written by Alice Walker discusses and celebrates African American mothers and grandmothers as artists whose talents were repressed because of the history of our country. Because black women of this era were often not given the opportunities to nurture or develop their…

    • 358 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays