Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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In Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use”, the narrator is the mother who is uneducated, but loving and hard working. Dee and Maggie are her daughters, whom she cares for deeply. Maggie, the youngest daughter, shares many outlooks on life the way her mother does. She has never been away from home and she and Mama are very close. She learned valuable traditions and their history from her family members. In contrast to Maggie, Dee is in college and couldn’t wait to leave home. She always had ambition and goals that she had set high. Mama’s relationship with Dee is not close, but she dreams of their bond rekindling. As she waits for Dee’s arrival, she thinks about TV shows where the “mother and child embrace” and then the “child tell how she would not have made it without her help” (Walker 155). Walker states, “I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort” (155). Because of Mama and Maggie’s practical attitude, they have a very hard time understanding Dee. Since she was exposed to the world outside of their rural, southern town, she feels liberated through the knowledge she has acquired. While Maggie and Mama see the butter turner, the quilts, and the benches as common house items, Dee see them as “priceless” works of art. Dee feels she is more connected with African American heritage but, Maggie exemplifies what culture really is.
Mrs. Johnson, as she describes herself, is a “big boned woman with rough, man working hands” (155). She can do a man’s job “as mercilessly as a man” (155). She has never been away from home and she doesn’t see the need to. While she was in the second grade, her school was shut down and that was the end of her education. Because of this Mama does not ha...

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...es Mama to be the narrator because telling the story from the view point of the sisters would be more biased. Maggie is more to herself and Dee always think she is correct. Mama gives her honest opinion about both sisters although “she is not a reliable source” (Farrell 181). In the end Maggie shows that knowing your family heritage is far better than trying to live and be something she’s not.

Works Cited

Farrell, Susan. "Fight Vs. Flight: A Re-Evaluation Of Dee In Alice Walker's “Everyday Use”." Studies In Short Fiction 35.2 (1998): 179. MasterFILE Elite. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Tuten, Nancy. "Alice Walker's Everyday Use." Explicator 51.2 (1993): 125. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River: prentice, 2014. 155-161.

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