Alice Walker’s Women: Oppression and Victory in Everyday Use and The Color Purple

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Many authors use the themes oppression and victory to define a struggle. This technique allows readers to relate with characters on a personal level. Alice Walker constantly uses this theme in her short story “Everyday Use” with her character Maggie and in her book The Color Purple with her character Celie. Both tales depict these women as underdogs who overcome obstacles to realize her full potential at the end. In the story “Everyday Use” Walker weaves us into the lives of Momma, Dee, and Maggie, an underprivileged family in rural Georgia. Momma is described as a loving, hard working woman who cares more about her family’s welfare than her appearance. The conflict comes along with Momma’s two daughters Dee and Maggie whose personalities are as different as night and day. Dee, the younger, is an attractive, full figured, light skinned young lady with ample creativity when it comes to getting what she wants and feels she needs. Maggie on the other hand, is darker skinned, homely and scarred from the fire that destroyed the family’s first house. Throughout the story we are told about Maggie’s timid and withdrawn behavior. Her own mother described her as “. . . a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car . . . That is the way my Maggie walks . . . chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire.” (Handout, Walker) She is constantly overpowered by her dominant sister who “held life in the palm of one hand, that “no” is a word the world never learned to say to her” (Handout, Walker). It seems as if Walker herself find Maggie inferior, seeing as how she is a minor character in the story. Things begin to turn around for Maggie towards the end when she receives the family’s... ... middle of paper ... ...ave brings them out of their protective and secluded shells. In both stories the theme of oppression, one mental the other physical, resulting in a victory, one internal the other external, prove that with determination and a belief in a higher power you can survive any situation. Works Cited Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use”. In Love and In Trouble, 1986 Kelley, Margot Anne. "Sisters' Choices: Quilting Aesthetics in Contemporary African-American Women's Fiction." Christian, ed., Everyday 167-94. Washington, Mary Helen. "An Essay on Alice Walker." Christian, ed., Everyday 85-104. Christian, Barbara, ed. Everyday Use. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1994. Commentary on Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Speilberg, Steven. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Amblin Entertainment, Guber-Peters Company, The, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1985.
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