Past and Present Connections: Alice Walker’s Use of First Person Point of View in “Everyday Use”

Topics: First-person narrative, Black people, Narrative Pages: 4 (1548 words) Published: April 28, 2011
Alice Walker’s use of first person point of view allows us to form closer connections to the story by enabling the reader to better understand Mama’s views. The role of Mama as narrator helps us transgress through a story that when first read, seems like a fairly simple story about a Black woman, her two distinct daughters, and a quilt with an undetermined destination. Upon closer reading and analysis of the role of Mama as narrator, it is apparent that this is not just a simple tale of a Black woman, her two daughters and a quilt, but the story of Black women, their heritage, and the quilt as a symbol for that heritage and the generations of history associated with that heritage. Through Mama’s narration we will see Mama’s internal struggles as a Black woman who’s family had once faced oppression, and how through the course of the story we will see a change in her views: towards her daughters and their identities, her eventual conclusion on what heritage really means, what that quilt is really worth, and which of the daughters is most deserving of the quilt.

Mama is a single Black woman that describes herself as a “large, big-boned woman with rough man-working hands” and discusses how hard she works around her property, often comparing herself to a man doing masculine things such as killing and cleaning hogs, wearing flannel pajamas, and killing a bull calf with a sledge hammer (Par 5). This imagery of this man-like woman gives us a sense that Mama is a strong, capable and independent woman. Although Mama has a second grade education and she lacks certain valued qualities, she takes pride in practical aspects of her nature. Mama has two girls and they differ in everyway possible. Her younger daughter Maggie lives at home with her and Mama describes her as walking like a lame animal (Par 9) and not as bright and pretty as her older daughter Dee. In contrast Dee is educated and “she is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (Par10). It...
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