`` Everyday Use `` By Alice Walker Essay

`` Everyday Use `` By Alice Walker Essay

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Skimming through Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” one might presume the story is about an African-American mother who doesn 't truly grasp her heritage. After further analysis, it’s easy to see that’s not the case here at all. “Everyday Use” is a beautiful short story that captures a battle between materialism and heritage. Alice Walker, an African-American woman herself, does an excellent job portraying this battle between the two, and showing her readers what truly matters when it comes to family and heritage.
In this story, we have four characters who contribute to the overall message. We first meet “Mama,” who describes herself as a hard-working, bigger woman. She lives in what I imagine to be a run-down farm house. This house bares no real windows, has a tin roof, and is located in a pasture on a dirt road. One of Mama’s daughters, Maggie, lives with her in this house. Maggie is very timid and shy, as she has been since a tragic house fire years ago, which left her with scars. The story begins with these two in the yard waiting for Mama’s other daughter Dee, and Dee’s “friend.” Dee and her friend soon pull up to the house in a car, which she exits wearing a flashy dress and jewelry. She grabs a polaroid camera and starts snapping pictures of the house and her family, before even greeting them properly. Mama then welcomes Dee, to which she promptly retorts that her name is now “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo.” She tells her family that she’s changed her name, because she couldn’t stand to keep the name given by the people who oppressed her. Confused, Mama reminds her that she was named after her aunt, who was named after her grandma, and so fourth. The friend with Dee is introduced as Hakim-a-barber, who seems to be a boyfriend or h...


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...she’s a bad person at all, just a student who is still learning and desperately trying to educate herself on her background. The only problem is that she fails to actually get to know her actual family. If she never changes her views, I strongly believe Wangero will regret this deeply when she’s an older woman. She’ll find herself surrounded by pieces of art and displays, while not actually having any family or personal history to reflect on. Alice Walker left us with such a strong message regarding what truly matters when it comes to heritage and family. She makes it very clear that heritage is really nothing without family, when she chooses to make Wangero an antagonist. Going back to David Coward’s critique article, he put it perfectly when he said, “she (Wangero) seems willing to lose her soul to be free of the baleful influences that she thinks have shaped it.”

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