Depictions and Contrasts of Empowerment and Heritage in Alice Walker's Every Day Use

analytical Essay
1912 words
1912 words

Through the beginning of the 20th century, there was a large cultural uprising and revolution in the way of racial identity and cultural reclamation, of heritage and rejection of oppression. The shift in gears was prominent, and soon all manner of people began to turn themselves over to the resolution; inspired poets, artists, songwriters and even those in the rabble between began to change their names to re-identify with their culture, their heritage (in their own eyes and minds.) It was refereed to as a second renaissance of Black Culture, and in this renaissance there was a reinvention of literature. In the journal written by B. Lakshemi, they describe the events of this revolution; “Two literary genres emerged during this second Black 'Renaissance.' 'Womanist' literature [is one], a term used by the novelist Alice Walker to distinguish this trend from the white dominated feminist movement[...] 'Womanist' literature refers to literature that focuses on womanhood.” (Lakshmi 210) Alice Walker, referenced in this quote, is one of the more prominent black artistic figure of her time. The youngest child of two sharecroppers, she was, herself, a pronounced activist, having in her time as an author published several pieces which display the different ways in which empowerment and pride manifest in women. Crippled in her youth by a wayward BB gun shot to her eye, she experienced life as both a quiet and humble girl- describing herself as “The girl who did not raise her head” (“Beauty” 3)- and as a proud and accomplished individual, having graduated as valedictorian and gone on to receive several honors in writing. Themes of empowerment run strong in Alice Walker's stories. Her life and her fiction comes together to display a strong co...

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...instances in her works, allowing the reader an intimate look at the lives of those affected by the cultural movements of the decade.

Works Cited

Lakshmi, B. "The origin and growth of African American literature."Language In India Mar. 2014: 210+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
Moskowitz, Jack W."The New Mood of Black America."(n.p): n. pag. Print.
Selzer, Linda. "Race and domesticity in 'The Color Purple.'." African American Review 29.1 (1995): 67+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
Walker, Alice. “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self.” n.p : Kingsberry, 2006. Print.
Walker, Alice. “In Search of our Mothers Gardens.” San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983. Print.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Baym, Nina. Shorter Seventh Edition. New York: Norton & Company, 2008. 2568-2583. Print.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that there was a cultural uprising and revolution in the way of racial identity, cultural reclamation, and rejection of oppression. the themes of empowerment run strong in alice walker's stories.
  • Analyzes how alice walker's "everyday use" has the most potent, dramatic parallels between the different notions of heritage and empowerment. mama is a simple, strong, hardworking woman who has pride in her work and does not understand the obsessions with heritage.
  • Analyzes how maggie, the younger of the two daughters, is an opposite to her sister. she inherits the quiet, passive life of those who did not join the revolution or the movement
  • Explains lakshmi, b., "the origin and growth of african american literature."
  • Describes how dee and i are suddenly brought together on a tv program.
  • Analyzes how mama clearly loves her daughter, dee, and maggie, while asalamakin is an accessory to "wangero"
  • Analyzes how dee embraces the movement and ideals as a means of reconnecting with her perceived-foreign roots and establishing independence.
  • Analyzes how alice walker's "everyday use" and its characters offer a stark contrast between two interpretations of black power in the time of cultural revolution.
  • Analyzes selzer, linda, and walker, alice. "race and domesticity in 'the color purple.'"
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