Imagery in "Everyday Use"

780 Words2 Pages

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, wrote "Everyday Use," which tells a story of a rugged, independent mother of two girls who celebrate their African-American heritage in completely different ways. One daughter, Maggie, celebrates her heritage by enjoying and appreciating the use of family heirlooms whereas the other daughter, Dee, feels it is more honorable to display these heirlooms for artistic show. Walker's use of imagery illuminates the story's theme of family heritage and, quite possibly the most respectful way of celebrating such heritage.

Walker begins the story by describing the yard in which the mother is waiting for her daughter to come home. She shows the yard to the reader as being clean and wavy, which, according to the mother, is "more comfortable than most people know" (875). She feels that it is an extension of the living room. She compares the hard clay to the living room floor being swept smooth. This leaves a cool place to sit under the elm tree and "wait for the breezes that never come inside the house" (875). The reader at this point has already experienced the feeling of the soft grass, hard yet smooth clay, the cool breeze, and the smell of the elm tree.

She then shifts to discussing TV shows that bring family members together such as Sally Jesse Raphael or Oprah. As the mother imagines what it will be like when her daughter comes home, she brings out the imagery of tears and wrapped arms, and since we have all seen these shows, the reader can see the stage set up with four chairs and the daughter waiting for the parents to come out on stage. We can see the look of surprise on the daughter's face as they come out onto the stage. She has not seen her daughter, Dee, for a while and imagines b...

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...made for, she no longer offers much imagery to the reader. The story comes to an end as the mother reminds Dee that she was once offered the quilts and refused them because she thought they were "old fashioned and out of style" (880). She also turns the table on Dee by snatching the quilts out of Dee's hands and dumping them into Maggie's lap. She tells Dee to get a couple of the other quilts, and with that said, Dee storms out.

Throughout the story, Walker uses brilliant imagery in describing each detail of what the mother sees through the eyes of her world. This imagery in turn creates a more interesting and imaginative story, and allows the reader to experience what the narrator is experiencing. The theme of imagery is not within the story, but how the story is told. However, the theme of love of one's family heritage is within the heart and not on the wall.

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