Essay on Every Day Use by Alice Walker

Essay on Every Day Use by Alice Walker

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Growing up in the late 60’s as an African American in the South, Alice Walker has had to withstand many of the oppressions black people faced at the time. Her direct experience with the torment of being prejudiced by her skin color and the national movements against this, have been the fundamental basis to the themes in her writings. In her story “Everyday Use,” she depicts the different understandings of culture between a literate daughter, Dee, and her mother and sister who have not been educated and yet live a traditional simple life together. Through a series of events the author explores the adverse views on heritage among the younger and older generations of African-Americans. Within the historical context, it was time where Blacks were raising awareness and striving to ascertain their personal identities through movements like the “Black Power,” “Black Nationalism,” and “Black Pride” which sought to retrieve their African origins and reject their American heritage. Nevertheless, that is precisely what the author criticizes in her story, saying that they cannot simply reject their true nature disrespecting their real ancestors to embrace a culture they barely know.

As the story starts, Mama and Maggie are anxiously awaiting the oldest sister’s arrival. Having not seen her for a very long time, they certainly do not know what to expect. As the car pulls over, Mama describes a short stocky fellow along with Dee wearing a long dress so loud it hurt her eyes, long earrings, bracelets and her hair up like a sheep’s wool. According to this description, we can infer Mama had not seen her daughter ever dress that way yet still should have not been bewildered since Dee was well known for her sense of style. On the other hand, Maggie...


... middle of paper ...


...rstanding or knowing its root causes. This is the author’s way of representing how young generations wanted to go back to their African roots, changing the hair, name, clothes disregarding their true American heritage in a very disrespectful way to their real ancestors.



Works Cited

Hoel, Helga. "Personal Names and Heritage: Alice Walker’s 'Everyday Use'." 2000.
Trondheim Cathedral School, Trondheim, Norway. 30 Jan. 2000.

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William Burto,
and William E. Cain. 10th ed. New York: Pearson, 2014. 1125-131. Print.

Walker, Alice. "Stitches in Time." Interview by Evelyn C. White. N.p., n.d. Web.

White, David. “'Everyday Use': Defining African-American Heritage." 2001.
Anniina's Alice Walker Page. 19 Sept. 2002. [4/15/2014]


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