Essay about Symbolism in the Short Story "Everyday Use"

Essay about Symbolism in the Short Story "Everyday Use"

Length: 571 words (1.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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...


... middle of paper ...


...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.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Characterization, Conflict, And Symbolism Essay

- Characterization, Conflict, and Symbolism in “Everyday Uses” In the short story “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker tells the story about a girl named Dee that moves away from their rural life to attend college. After returning home from college, Dee faces conflict with her mother and sister due to the change in lifestyle Dee has become accustomed to. Throughout the story, Walker introduces characters important to the story and adds character history to help the audience understand the conflict between the characters....   [tags: Fiction, Short story, Everyday Use, Family]

Good Essays
1122 words (3.2 pages)

Use of Symbolism in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

- Symbolism means like any place, person or thing that is something but can be interpreted in a different way. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story that shows symbolism, to give hints about the story in all the characters and objects in the story. This Short story takes place in the summer where a small town has a lottery every year round. The person that wins the lottery has a huge impact on the town and the crops that grow in it. Old man Warner is the oldest in the town and has been in more than seventy lotteries he likes to go by tradition and doesn’t like to change it up....   [tags: short story analysis]

Good Essays
967 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on An Analysis of Symbolism and Irony in Three Short Stories

- The usage of symbolism and irony to communicate theme is an imperative tool in short stories. These eloquent writing techniques clarify and embellish the reader’s interpretations while also keeping the story interesting and slightly mysterious. The authors of the short stories “August Heat,” “The Story of an Hour,” and “Through the Tunnel” all weave carefully constructed webs of these two techniques to assist in revealing theme to the reader. To begin, author William Fryer Harvey spins an intricate tale of the prominence of flaws in times of stress through his work “August Heat.” The entire story is stitched together with irony and symbolism, all of which point toward the untimely death of...   [tags: symbolism, irony, august heat]

Good Essays
708 words (2 pages)

Essay on The Short Story Chocco's and the Poem Tomorrow's Song

- ... People are living a life of ignorance believing that the earth is permanent. Snyder said “myths die; even continents are impermanent” (13). Snyder does not introduce the theme of impermanence in this line in order to confront us that in fact it is not necessary to transform our approach to nature because, after all, nothing lasts forever so if it is not us who will, for instance, cause extinction of a plant species, then it will surely once disappear itself. On the contrary, the poet aims to encourage human society to change their attitude to their environment because the fact that everything is impermanent represents the reason why we should do everything we can to move gently and caus...   [tags: literary analysis, symbolism and allegories]

Good Essays
1220 words (3.5 pages)

Symbolism Throughout The Lottery By Shirley Jackson Essay

- In almost every story, one can find symbolism throughout the text to help the reader better understand what the writer wants the reader to takeout from his/her story. Symbolism is something that must be analyzed and explored to experience a deeper meaning to the story. Sometimes, symbolism throughout a story may not be noticeable when first read, but going back to analyze the text can add a deeper meaning to words and can also help to enhance the meaning behind the story line. In some instances, symbolism can leave a reader to ponder what the writer is trying to express with the symbolism used in the story; for symbolism can be interpreted differently and can have many layers of meaning to i...   [tags: Symbolism, Symbol, Katherine Anne Porter]

Good Essays
1077 words (3.1 pages)

A Short Story By Flannery O ' Connor Essay

- The definition of a short story is a fully developed story that is a lot less (in length) than a novel. The short story written by Flannery O’Connor called “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” is exactly just that. This story packs a world of meaning, symbolism, and foreshadowing all in a mere 12 pages. In this short story The Grandmother is the antagonist and uses her ways of manipulation and selfishness to get what she desires. Not everything goes her way and ends in a series of tragic events. The first sentence of this story sets the mood when The Grandmother states that she does not want to go to Florida (O’Connor 1)....   [tags: Short story, Family, Fiction, William Faulkner]

Good Essays
1191 words (3.4 pages)

Symbolism : The Scarlet Ibis Essay

- Symbolism Symbolism can be defined “as the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense” (C. Bavota). James Hurst gives us many examples of symbolism in his short story “The Scarlet Ibis.” James Hurst was born in 1922 and was the youngest of three children. He attended North Carolina State College and served in The United States Army during World War II. He had originally studied to become a chemical engineer, but he realized he had a passion for music and became a student at the Juilliard School of Music in New York....   [tags: Short story, Symbolism, James Hurst, Symbol]

Good Essays
814 words (2.3 pages)

Use of Symbolism in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

- In the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, once a year a person from town as to be sacrifice for a good harvest. Kids gather stones and put them in their pockets and they head towards the center of the town with the other villagers. As they gather around Mr. Summers brings a black box, in this box it is filled with many papers. Only one paper has a black dot. This dot will determine the family that would be chosen to be sacrifice. Wait I am not quite done, if a family is chosen they would have to draw again between each other to see who in the family would be stoned to death....   [tags: Symbolism, Symbols]

Good Essays
1529 words (4.4 pages)

Symbolism in "Everyday Use" Essay

- Symbolism is a symbol of whatever the object or subject is about. Every little object can be used as a symbol of whatever. Like in math, for example shapes and numbers symbolize anything it can be. Also, the American flag, It has fifty stars, representing 50 states. Also, colors may be used as a symbol. Especially in the person, you can see their true color on how they are or act. Like red angry, blue sad, green happy, black dark, purple love, anything represents something. This is most likely your tone of mood....   [tags: Alice Walker, Literary Analysis]

Good Essays
1228 words (3.5 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]

Good Essays
1557 words (4.4 pages)