Everyday Use By Alice Walker Summary

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The great pioneer Walt Disney said it best, “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards - the things we live by and teach our children - are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” To truly understand your heritage you must be able to accept it. Your family legacy is passed down from generation, to generation. Creating a false heritage in which you know nothing about doesn’t help you understand your true heritage. Alice Walker uses the theme “Everyday Use” to demonstrate her approach about the meaning of one’s heritage.
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a short story that takes place in the late 1960s, to the early 1970s and is told in first person by an uneducated mother, Mrs. Johnson. She describes herself as “a large, big boned woman with rough, man
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Nonlinear narratives don’t follow rules of space and time. They can start and end at any time in the trajectory of the plotline. Throughout “Everyday Use” there were flashbacks to explain things as they were actually happening (e.g. the house fire). The flashbacks, which of course is told from Mama's point of view, clearly explains why Dee is the way she is now. It explains her differences and the derision she has for her heritage and roots, which she is so quick to disparage and ignore. This paves the way for the introduction of the modern day Dee and explains her selfish actions in wanting the quilts; not because of the living history of her family that they represent, but because of their beauty alone.
On the surface, the conflict of “Everyday Use” appears to be between Mama and Dee, a man versus man conflict. Mama resented the intimidating world of ideas and education that Dee forced on her family on her trips home. The whole basis of changing her name meant that she rejects being named after her Aunt Dicie. Coincidentally, the quilts she wants were done by Mama and Aunt Dicie who used some tops their mother made before her
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