Everyday Use by Alice Walker: A Look at Symbolism and Family Values Essay

Everyday Use by Alice Walker: A Look at Symbolism and Family Values Essay

Length: 893 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Alice Walkers “Everyday Use”, is a story about a family of African Americans that are faced with moral issues involving what true inheritance is and who deserves it. Two sisters and two hand stitched quilts become the center of focus for this short story. Walker paints for us the most vivid representation through a third person perspective of family values and how people from the same environment and upbringing can become different types of people.
Like most peoples families there is a dynamic of people involved, although all from the same environment and teachings, it is ultimately an accumulation of personal experiences that shape us and defines how we perceive our existence. “Everyday Use” is a story of conflict of right and wrong and also family values. Walkers’ narrator, “Mama”, struggles with her disrespectful daughter ‘Dee”. Though “Mama” was quoted to have worked hard like a man to send her to school gratitude is never mentioned. “Clearly, Dee privileges language over silence, as she demonstrates in her determination to be educated and in the importance she places on her name” (Tuten). Since “Dee” had been out of the house and to school in the city she had lost touch with where she came from and had little respect for the family heritage. Maggie having been burned in a house fire had learned to love the shelter that only a family can provide. Being burned makes you like no one else, everywhere you go you feel eyes looking. Since she had not been out of the house and had the time to learn the value of family she regarded the quilts as a part of her heritage.
Presenting the story from a third person perception and having the narration by the mother or “Mama” gives the story great relevance to real life situations that ha...


... middle of paper ...


...and how we perceive ideas about what writers are trying to get across. This story is a clear representation of family values and true inheritance.






Works Cited
DiYanni, , Robert . Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 4th. New York: McGraw Hill, 1998. 408-413. Print.
Hoel , Helga. ""Personal Names and Heritage: Alice Walker’s 'Everyday Use'." 2000." . Trondheim Cathedral School, 30 January 2000. Web. 1 march 2014. Cowart, David. “Heritage and Deracination in Walker’s ‘Everyday Use.’” Studies in Short Fiction 33 (1996): 171-84.
Tate, Claudia C. "'Everyday Use' by Alice Walker." African American Review 30.2 (1996): 308+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
Gruesser, John. "Walker's Everyday Use." The Explicator 61.3 (2003): 183+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Symbolism in Everyday Use By Alice Walker Essay

- Symbolism isn’t as simple as it sounds. Symbolism is for objects that have true meaning to them. For example when you see a stop sign its true symbol it’s trying to show us is to stop. When it’s your birthday and you get something from someone really special to you it gets a true symbolism to you. The symbol on the streets explains to us in what directions we may go and what no to do, so the symbols in the streets are to show us what to do. In this short story ‘Everyday Use’ Alice Walker uses symbolism for the objects that had been passed from the ancestors....   [tags: heritage, slavery, stop sign, ]

Better Essays
1367 words (3.9 pages)

Essay about Everyday Use, by Alice Walker

- Everyday Use, written by Alice Walker is a short story narrated from the eyes of the character Mama. The author uses cultural symbolism throughout her work to tell the tale of struggle between a mother and her two daughters. The tale unfolds at Mama’s house during the Civil rights movement in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when African Americans were struggling to define themselves and their heritage, the dialog shows conflicting views of how their culture should be appreciated as Mama and Maggie enjoy a visit from Dee....   [tags: Cultural Symbolism, Heritage]

Better Essays
1219 words (3.5 pages)

Sensible Nonsense in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland Essay

- Alice in Wonderland has been a beloved children’s classic for over a century and was originally told to entertain a close friend’s child, Alice Liddell; yet, it has now become one of the most analyzed children’s stories with its many paradoxes. While it could be acclaimed to feminism with its many intense female characters that often illustrate poor decisions or historical with its Victorian era time frame, the two that best fit are psychoanalytical and existentialism. Via these schools of literary criticism, one can make a complete picture of a young girl in an irrational adult world....   [tags: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland]

Better Essays
1307 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Everyday Use By Alice Walker

- “Everyday Use” Traditions are crucial to identities in order to preserve family values. Those values shape who we are. Without heritage and traditions, we are at risk of losing sight of who we are, and eventually those tenets will parish. In “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker, three women internalize heritage differently; Dee doesn’t value her heritage, Maggie values her family’s heritage, and, in the end of the story, Mama realized the true embodiment and meaning of heritage. From a young age, Dee felt a detachment from her heritage, “Ten, twelve years” (Walker, 25)....   [tags: Family, Meaning of life, The Heritage, Dee Snider]

Better Essays
748 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Everyday Use By Alice Walker

- Traditions are crucial to identities in order to preserve family values. Those values shape who we are. Without heritage and traditions, we are at risk of losing sight of who we are, and eventually those tenets will perish. In “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker, three women internalize heritage differently; Dee doesn’t value her heritage, Maggie values her family’s heritage, and, in the end of the story, Mama realized the true embodiment and the meaning of heritage. From a young age, Dee felt a detachment from her heritage....   [tags: Family, Meaning of life, The Heritage, Dee Snider]

Better Essays
740 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Symbolism References in Everyday Use

- Symbolism the use of symbols to ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different meaning. For example, there are different varieties of flowers like the roses stand for romance, violets represent shyness, lilies for beauty and temptation, and chrysanthemums represent perfection. Symbols are also used in colors to symbolize on what they represent. For instance, black is used to represent death or evil, white stands for life and purity, red can symbolize passion, purple is a royal color, yellow stands for violence or decay, and blue represents peacefulness and calm....   [tags: semiotics, sociological analysis]

Better Essays
978 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on alice and wonderland

- Finding the Child in Us All Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has entertained not only children but adults for over one hundred years. The tale has become a treasure of philosophers, literary critics, psychoanalysts, and linguists. It also has attracted Carroll’s fellow mathematicians and logicians. There appears to be something in Alice for everyone, and there are almost as many explanations of the work as there are commentators. It may be perhaps Carroll’s fantastical style of writing that entertains the reader, rather than teaching them a lesson as was customary in his time....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Better Essays
1869 words (5.3 pages)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass Essay

- Daydreams are not always meaningless, they permit one a chance to create a place where one can rehearse the future and imagine new adventures without risk. Allowing the mind to roam without restrictions can show us who were really are and how we perceive the world around us. Lewis Carroll uses these fantastical thoughts as a foundation for that of Wonderland, a bizarre and seemingly absurd world in which, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and the sequel, Through the Looking Glass occur. These novels both depict the journey and adventure of a young girl named Alice....   [tags: Lewis Carroll, Literary Analysis]

Better Essays
2541 words (7.3 pages)

Characters and Values Essay examples

- Characters tend to take to their values very strongly. A character will do anything possible to stand behind what they value. Authors use this to invoke a strong feeling in the reader, and make the plot more meaningful. By showing how strongly values affect the character, it causes one to question how strong and meaningful their own values are. A poem that does this is “1910”, by Pat Mora, and a oral history that is an example is “Tsali of the Cherokees”, by Alice Marriot. In “1910”, symbolism is used to represent the character’s values....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
513 words (1.5 pages)

Symbolism in Alice Walker's Everyday Use Essay

- Symbolism in Alice Walker's Everyday Use History in the Making Heritage is something that comes to or belongs to one by reason of birth. This may be the way it is defined in the dictionary, but everyone has their own beliefs and ideas of what shapes their heritage. In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, these different views are very evident by the way Dee (Wangero) and Mrs. Johnson (Mama) see the world and the discrepancy of who will inherit the family’s quilts. Symbolism such as certain objects, their front yard, and the different characters, are all used to represent the main theme that heritage is something to always be proud of....   [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use]

Better Essays
1557 words (4.4 pages)