Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Symbolism is basically the use of symbols, actions, words and objects to signify ideas, different from their literal meaning. Symbolism is contextual and the meaning is dependent on the context. Walker uses various symbols to tell the story in ‘Everyday Use’. The symbols create a deeper meaning and understanding of the theme of the story. This segment will discuss the various symbols used in this short story and explore the different meanings and interpretations, including those by made by other sources. The first symbol is the act of reading and writing. From a modern perspective, reading and writing have become normal acts and a basic needs. A large number of children have been enrolled into
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They were made by the grandmother from pieces of her clothes, including those passed down to her. The quilts had even been set aside for Maggie’s dowry. They are symbolic of the African American heritage (Cowart, 171). Dee who has come to ‘appreciate’ her heritage wants to have the quilts. The narrator points out that previously when offered a quilt, she had rejected them terming them as old fashioned and not stylish. This symbolically means that Dee had earlier on rejected her cultural heritage. With distant schooling, and ability to read and write, over her family’s inability, had made her despise her traditions. When she comes of age and decides to embrace the culture, she still does not want to separate her literacy superiority to her new-found appreciation of culture. She views the culture-rich equipment in the house as artwork. She wants them for display, to decorate her house as a show for her culture. This is different from the everyday use of the quilts and top and dasher as used by the narrator, and those before her. For them, the objects are for everyday use, not a show of heritage. It can be interpreted that they ‘live’ their culture and not just use it as display (Cowart, 173)
The quilt, having been made of patches is a representation of the ‘people’. It is an attempt not to erase the people that have lived before. This includes the learning of the craft which is symbolic of passing down traditions for future generations to carry forward. Maggie

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