Analysis of Walker’s “Everyday Use” The short story “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker, contains multiple different literary elements. History and heritage play a key role in the development and conclusion of this rather intriguing story. Although history and heritage are important, the driving factors of this story are the literary elements. In particular the elements of symbols, characterization, and point of view in this story are significant. The use of symbols in this short story provide a deeper meaning to the emotions the characters have and are essential to the story as a whole. The major symbol in the short story are the quilts. The quilts are where the title “Everyday Use” comes from. Walker shows this by having Dee exclaim, “[s]he’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use” (556) when Mama proclaimed that the quilts will go with Maggie instead of Dee. Mama realizes that Dee does not need anything extra in life because of her escape to the outside world. However, Maggie is literally scared from her past and the sentimental value behind the quilts can provide her with comfort. Maggie views the quilts as a way to hold on to something from the family heritage and potentially keep the family heritage alive. Meanwhile, Dee has moved on with her life and even changed her name. By doing this, she is slowly eliminating her past and all ties with it resulting in a falsely perceived view of the quilts. Dee talks about how she will “[h]ang [the quilts]” (556)
“Everyday Use” is a story about family and heritage. Through various arguments the authors, Susan Farrell and Nancy Tuten, share their thoughts and ideas on Walkers meaning of the story. Although they both agree that the story has to do with heritage, Nancy Tuten’s ideas and Susan Farrell’s differ.
Everyday Use is one of Alice Walker’s short stories which published at 1973. It tells about Mama, Maggie and Dee. Mama and Maggie lived in the middle of pasture and both of them are still bound to their family tradition, and Dee is Mama’s educated daughter. The story tells the arriving of Dee along with Hakim-A-Barber. When they’re about to eat, Dee asks a few goods from Mama and one of them is the Quilt. Quilt in the story is their family heritage. The presence of Dee along with her knowledge and the quilt itself represent an Irony as an element of literature. The story shows that Dee’s knowledge can transform in to an irony because she doesn’t have a true understanding about the heritage and the family tradition itself.
Alice Walker’s story “Everyday Use” is a story decipating family and heritage. She released the story with a collection of other short stories called In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. This collection revealed Walker to be one of the finest of late twentieth century American short-story writers (Phy-Olsen). According to Cowart, the story address itself “to the dilemma of African Americans who are striving to escape prejudice and poverty.” One of the main characters, Dee, made drastic changes and would like her mother and sister to see things her way. Dee’s statement to her mother and sister regarding their disregard of heritage is very ironic considering the fact her name is a part of the family’s history, her new behavior, and her
A daughter who uses her mother's gifts in contrast to a daughter who preserves them, is far more valuable just like in “Everyday use” by Alice Walker because heritage values can be preserved. From here on, Walker utilizes a prideful tone which later shifts into an authoritative tone by illustrating a proud mother who becomes defensive because of her modern daughter’s opposing views.
In "Everyday Use," Alice Walker stresses the importance of heritage. She employs various ways to reveal many aspects of heritage that are otherwise hard to be noticed.
Different types of symbolism are used to add significance to point out uniqueness in connotations that a writer uses when writing literature. An author’s literary works may include multiple symbols to give perception to his or her readers. When a writer uses a symbol, it is intended to heighten the sense a reader’s communication of literary works. The three key symbols in the short story in “Everyday Use” is that of quilts stored away in a trunk, the house, and hands. The quilts represented the African American’s women talent of creativity from those that were made from by other individuals from other people. It is noted that the quilts depicted that a guiding principle during the time of slavery for which they were used to send a form of communication to other slaves (Kirszner and Mandell, 2012). As stated by Kirszner and Mandell (2012), “One design, the Log Cabin, was hung outside to mark a house of refuge for fugitive slaves. Other quilts mapped escape routes out of a plantation or county, often by marking the stars that would act as a guide to freedom for those escaping at night” (page. 345). When slavery came to an end, the quilts created during this period of time were remembered for their significance of ethnicity and legendary importance by the African Americans. Dee was the daughter of the momma who thought it would be better to change her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo as she did not want to carry the heritage name as it seem to trouble her. Dee looks around for items that she can back home with rather than spend valuable time with her mama and Maggie. Suddenly takes notice a truck that is sitting at the end of her mama’s bed, and she pulls out two quilts that were made by her very own ancestors. Dee requests to take the quilts home with her; however, the mama informs her that she had plans to give them to Maggie upon her marriage. Dee was selfish as she wanted them for herself only to display them on a wall, and requested the ones that were completely sewn by hand. The mother suddenly reminisces how the different pieces had a story behind them about herself and her heritage. Why, the quilts were made to be put on a bed. Dee had an opportunity to take a quilt with her when she went off to college
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). The arrival of Dee to Mrs. Johnson’s house causes mixed emotions on Mrs. Johnson. Dee Johnson and Mrs. Johnson have differing viewpoints on heritage and each value possessions for different reasons. Dee’s superficiality and materialist ways
In Alice Walker’s insightful short story, “Everyday Use,” the importance of the present is favored over a trivial souvenir of the past.
In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the author portrays opposing ideas about one's heritage. Through the eyes of two daughters, Dee and Maggie, who have chosen to live their lives in very different manners, the reader can choose which character to identify most with by judging what is really important in one's life. In Dee's case, she goes out to make all that can of herself while leaving her past behind, in comparison to Maggie, who stays back with her roots and makes the most out of the surroundings that she has been placed in. Through the use of symbolism, the tangible object of a family heirloom quilt brings out these issues relating to heritage to Mama, and she is able to reasonably decide which of her daughters has
Through contrasting family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the importance of understanding our present life in relation to the traditions of our own people and culture. Using careful descriptions and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors contribute to the values of one's heritage and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects or mere appearances, but by one's lifestyle and attitude.
In the story 'Everyday Use', by Alice Walker, the value of ones culture and heritage are defined as a part of life that should not be looked upon as history but as a living existence of the past. Walker writes of the conflict between two Black cultures. Dee and Maggie are sisters whom do not share the same ideals. Mama is torn between two children with different perspectives of what life truly means. In the story, Walker describes the trial and tribulations of one daughter whose whole life is tormented by fear, failure and weakness; while the other "has held life always in the palm of one hand"(61) and moves to a better lifestyle. The possessions of the past will ultimately change the
“Everyday Use” is a short story by Alice Walker, which emphasizes the importance of understanding and cherishing your heritage and the inheritance that may come along with it. Knowing who is truly entitled to the inheritance, and what their heritage meant was the central conflict in the story, when the two main characters Dee and Maggie, both wanted the two hand stitched quilts. Rather than looking at the physical aspect of the quilts the author wants the reader to know that the meaning is much deeper. The quilts are used to depict the struggle, triumphs, oppression, joy, pain, and love of each hand that helped to create the prized works of art. The quilts needed to be put to everyday use, rather than a mere decoration on the wall. Through the quilts Walker was able to show what each character valued: Dee valued the materials things, Maggie, valued things she could attach herself to, and Mama valued the acceptance of her daughter Dee.
When the climactic scene occurs and Dee asks “Can I have these quilts?” (145), Maggie’s first implied reaction is one of surprise and anger; “I heard something fall in the kitchen, and a minute later the kitchen door slammed” (145). But as someone “never used to winning anything, or having anything reserved for her” (146), Maggie succumbs and offers to let Dee have them. Although “Maggie knows how to quilt” (146), she is able to comprehend the deeper personal value of the quilts, and states that she “can ‘member Grandma Dee without the quilts”(146). Despite their value as an item of everyday use, the quilts are meaningful to Maggie, much in the way they are to her mother who remembers having quilted them with Big Dee. The scraps, the bits and pieces and “one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War.” (145) hold deep significance to Maggie.
“Everyday Use” is a short story written by a 1940’s black writer, Alice Walker. She did a fantastic job illustrating her characters. There are different types of character in her story from round to static. Her use of clear-cut symbolism prompts the reader to be able to take a deeper look into the characters of the story. When reading this story I felt anger for Dee, while for the narrator and Maggie I felt sympathy.