Symbolism in the Short Story "Everyday Use"

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Alice Walker is a well-known African- American writer known for published fiction, poetry, and biography. She received a number of awards for many of her publications. One of Walker's best short stories titled "Everyday Use," tells the story of a mother and her two daughters' conflicting ideas about their heritage. The mother narrates the story of the visit by her daughter, Dee. She is an educated woman who now lives in the city, visiting from college. She starts a conflict with the other daughter, Maggie over the possession of the heirloom quilts. Maggie still lives the lifestyle of her ancestors; she deserves the right of the quilts. This story explores heritage by using symbolism of the daughters' actions, family items, and tradition.

Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," explores Dee and Maggie's opposing views about their heritage by conveying symbolism through their actions. Maggie is reminded of her heritage throughout everyday life. Her daily chores consist of churning milk, helping mama skin hogs on the bench which is the same table her ancestors built, and working in the pasture. On the other hand, Dee moved to the city where she attends college. It is obvious throughout the story; Dee does not appreciate her heritage. When Dee comes back to visit Mama and Maggie she announces that she has changed her name to Wangero. Dee states "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me" (89). Her stopping the tradition of the name Dee, which goes back as far as mama can remember, tells the reader that Dee does not value her heritage. Another symbolism of her lack of appreciation for her heritage demonstrated through her actions is when Dee asks Mama if she can have the churn top to use it as a ce...

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...e to have them. Tradition symbolizes heritage as an important factor in their lives.

Alice Walker used symbolism to convey the importance of heritage in her short story "Everyday Use," by using the sisters' actions, family items, and tradition. Dee does not appreciate her heritage like her sister and mother. She does not see the importance of family traditions. The churn top, the bench with her ancestor's rump prints, the butter dish, and the quilts are all symbols of their heritage. Dee is only interested in the items because they make great decorations. Heritage is very important factor in a person's life. Everyone should learn to appreciate their family history.

Work Cited

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 7th ed.

Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Prentice Hall 2004.

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