Characterism In As Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia. Her parents were farmers under the sharecropping system and her family had experienced many instances of violent racism. When Walker was eight, she was accidently shot in the eye with a BB gun by her brother. Because of the isolation she experienced due to her disfigurement caused by scar tissue, she spent a lot of time reading and writing. She was valedictorian of her class in high school which allowed her to attend Spelman, a college for black women. White attending Spelman, she became active in the Civil Rights Movement. During this time, African American women writers were becoming more popular and helped redefine readers’ understanding of the world (Baym and Levine 1081) As…show more content…
The story begins with Mama, and her daughter, Maggie, waiting in their yard for a visit from Dee. Walker uses the setting of the story to allow the reader to fully grasp the financial hardships that the family has had to bear. The house is described as having “three rooms, there are no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides, like the portholes in a ship, but not round and not square, with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside” (Baym and Levine 1531). Dee is the daughter who couldn’t wait to leave home. In fact, she hated the house she grew up in. When it caught on fire many years ago, Mama wanted to ask her “Why don’t you do a dance around the ashes? She had hated the house that much” (Baym and Levine 1532). Dee’s family raised enough money for her to go to school and, as she moved away and became more educated, she lost sight of where she came from. Mama is not just waiting on her daughter to arrive but also wondering if she will be accepted by her. Her daughter is the complete opposite of her, and Mama sometimes dreams that “I am the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake. My hair glistens in the hot bright lights” (Baym and Levine 1531). Mama is a practical woman though and knows this is not the way things are. The reader realizes this when…show more content…
Alice Walker uses symbolism through the use of these quilts to represent African American heritage. They were hand sewn by Grandma Dee, Big Dee, and Mama using “scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War” (Baym and Levine 1535). Mama and Maggie both believe that the quilts represent their family’s traditions and the memories that were made throughout the years, whereas Dee (Wangero) looks at the quilts as something to hang on the wall for decoration. In the past she had even considered them to be “old fashioned, out of style” (Baym and Levine 1536). Dee (Wangero) is aware that it took a lot of hard work to sew them, and knows about African history perhaps through a book she read while at school, but these quilts were a family heirloom, from the same family that she did not want to be a part of. The quilts had already been promised to Maggie because Mama knew she understood their history since she was more conscious of the heritage that the quilts represented. She could truly appreciate the work her family put into making them. These quilts held great sentimental value to her. She rightfully deserved them and Mama made sure she had them. Mama tells of how she
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