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Symbolic Analysis of Alice Walker's Everyday Use Essay

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Symbolic Analysis of Alice Walker's Everyday Use


Alice Walker?s ?Everyday Uses (For Your Grandmother)? is a story about a woman?s struggle with the past and her inability and unwillingness to accept the future. The three main characters in the story are Dee, her younger sister Maggie, and their mother. The story is narrated by the mother in an almost reminiscent manner, and it is on her that the focus of the story centers. Her eldest daughter, Dee, is the first in her family to embrace modernization and to attempt to improve her way of life. Dee?s view of the world and her feelings about developing her own sovereign identity are foreign to Maggie and her mother. The mother has lived her whole life in a manner that Dee simply does not wish to live hers. The mother shows some recognition of this as the story opens and she describes her own life and childhood and compares those of her two girls. The daughters, then, represent to their mother opposing forces in regards to socioeconomic and educational standards of living. Throughout her recollection of the story, the girls? mother learns to accept and even appreciate the fact that she and Maggie are resigned to living the only way they have ever known, while Dee has chosen to abandon that legacy and sees it only as a way of life to be honored, not lived.

The author?s decision to narrate the story from a first-person point of view allows the reader to gain insight into the mother?s struggle that wouldn?t have been available otherwise. Throughout the beginning of the story, the mother describes both her views of herself and of her daughters. She sees Dee as being superior to both she and Maggie. Dee always gets what she wants, whether it be through her family...


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...ally important in life. Dee will always want more. She will never experience the pure joy that Maggie and her mother now share in the knowledge that they may not be the richest or the brightest or the best looking folks, but they are satisfied with what they have. Before she leaves, Dee makes and assertion that is at least partly accurate. She tells Maggie that ?it?s really a new day for us?. She is correct. It is indeed a new day, but not for Dee and Maggie. They have already gone their separate ways. Instead, it is a new day for Maggie and her mother. They now share a love and understanding that they had not known prior to these events. They?ve found an everyday use for their grandmother by forming a bond of love that will hold their family and their heritage together for another generation, not unlike their grandmother was able to do with the pieces of a quilt.


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