Every Day Use by Alice Walker Essay

Decent Essays

Growing up in the late 60’s as an African American in the South, Alice Walker has had to withstand many of the oppressions black people faced at the time. Her direct experience with the torment of being prejudiced by her skin color and the national movements against this, have been the fundamental basis to the themes in her writings. In her story “Everyday Use,” she depicts the different understandings of culture between a literate daughter, Dee, and her mother and sister who have not been educated and yet live a traditional simple life together. Through a series of events the author explores the adverse views on heritage among the younger and older generations of African-Americans. Within the historical context, it was time where Blacks …show more content…

As she had discovered a new trend in praising African roots, Dee’s characterization, probably of West African feature, contrasts to Mama’s and Maggie’s Southern appearance. Hence, it was evident Dee had a higher intellectual advantage over her family and was now a symbol of the Black Power Movement.

To their surprise, Dee addresses them with a “Wa-su-zo-Tean-o”, which is a greeting of the Buganda people of Uganda in Eastern Africa meaning “Good morning.” This information, along with her new style gave out Dee’s reason of change; she was undoubtedly trying to reconnect to her African roots. However, we cannot dismiss the way the author divided the phrase into syllables. It shows that she had trouble pronouncing it meaning her regard for this African heritage was rather forced and deceitful. Thereupon, the man, with hair all over his head and on his chin, says “Asalamalakim” which stands for “peace be with you” in Arab. His approach represents how many were embracing Islam as an alternative religion to Christianity, often perceived as the oppressors’ religion.

Before Mama could even react, Dee snapped a picture with her Polaroid camera. The camera itself implies technological evolution and thus an evident disjunction of a generation to the next. Avoiding being in the picture herself, Dee is trying to frame her cultural history. She was building a façade where she would display the pictures as proof of her black lineage, showing the house, the yard and her mother,

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