Everyday Use, by Alice Walker Essay

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In the short story, Everyday Use, the author, Alice Walker, develops and transforms the attitude of the protagonist, Mama, adjusting the way she views her two daughters, Maggie and Dee. As one of the most significant characters in the story, Mama sets the perspective and point of view for the readers because of her important role as the narrator. The plot line of the story revolves around the return of Mama’s eldest daughter, Dee, as she is coming home from college in the city. In the beginning of the story, Walker gives the readers the strong impression that Mama harbors a special partiality for her eldest daughter, and a feeling of shame for her youngest, Maggie. But as the story works its way to the peak, and eventually comes to its closing, Walker drastically changes the attitude of Mama toward both of her daughters, finally treating each girl as they truly deserve.
Walker’s character Mama gives the readers insight to the thoughts and feelings of a traditional African-American mother of the late 1960's to early 1970's. She has seen her two daughters turn into two very different women as they grew up from adolescence. Mama’s position in the story is that of a strong parental figure, who has taken on the role of both father and mother for her small family, and her character is a perfect example of Walker’s “womanist” views (“Womanist” par 1). As Mama describes herself, she is clearly embarrassed of her outward appearance but takes pride in her own masculine strength. She also regretfully states that she was never educated past the second grade, saying, “After second grade the school was closed down. Don't ask me why: in 1927 colored asked fewer questions than they do now” (Walker par 13). However, this lack of education did no...

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... daughters. Walker uses their grandmother’s quilt as the piece of their family’s past that brings to light the best and worst qualities in the girls. Once she finally sees Maggie’s generous nature, compared to Dee’s spoiled and arrogant nature, and Mama cannot stand to see her youngest daughter lose one of the only things that is only hers, because of the self-centeredness of her older sister. As the short story comes to a closing, the reader can finally be at ease knowing of Mama’s appreciation for Maggie’s kind heart, and her worthiness of being able to keep a piece of their “heritage”.

Works Cited

"Womanist." Women's History., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Ed. Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia. 11th ed. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2010. 455-461. Print.

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