Essay on Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1097 Words Feb 1st, 2011 5 Pages
Sarah Benesh
Dr. Susan Dauer
English 1102
2 Febuary 2011 Analyzation of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker In 1972, Alice Walker published “Everyday Use” in a collection of short stories In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black women. As better known “Everyday Use” stood out of the collection, it has become one of few short stories about the conflict black Americans faced after the Civil Rights Movement; The struggle to maintain traditions, whilst embracing new-found freedom, and where the two worlds collided. Discussing the reoccurring themes, symbols and motifs through the narrator’s perception, and actions will reveal if the character, and ultimately the reader himself has grown or remained static in affect of the conflict. As
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This upsets the Narrator, Mama, she makes reference to Maggie being able to put them to everyday use, and she can always quilt more; while Dee adamantly protests. Mama makes a move to recover the quilts and Dee pulls them away and Mama thinks to herself “They already belonged to her” (Walker 456). In Mama’s perspective, the point of the quilts was the tradition of quilting, not the quilts themselves. She views Dee as someone to wants to act out the movements of appreciation of their culture, instead of passing it on. In the act of retrieving the quilts from Dee’s grip, and returning them to Maggie, Mama reveals herself as an unknowing, round character that can re-act differently than what is expected of her. Mama stands up for the true traditions in the face of her daughter, although her daughter believes herself to be the all knowing one. As well as the theme of old black world verses new, we come across the motif of names and re-naming within the short story. Just as Dee comes home dressed in African styled clothing, she re-names herself “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” to represent her full transformation into a true African woman. Her boyfriend’s name “Hakim.a.barber” also hints to the fact that he also took up the Muslim faith in an attempt of reform. Mama makes an effort to educate Dee on her name; how it was passed through generations and holds value in itself. Dee dismisses this fact, and it reveals Dees ignorance of the lineage of strong women she was born

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