In the short story “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker explored the results of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation in African American society during the early 1900s. The “Reconstruction Era” marked a time when the United States, especially African American sects, sought to start over again from the aftermath (PBS, 2004). In the allegorical short story, Dee, or “Wangero,” watches the old family dwelling burn until the last dingy gray board lay in ruin--she showed relief (Walker, 1337). This event symbolized the destruction of the old way of life that many slaves had known. Subsequently, after being released from their shackles, many slaves ventured out into the world to claim what they deserved after years of oppression. When describing the characters’ “extended living room,” Walker wrote, “the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular gro...
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...ved that her immediate family heritage was just as important to her future. The beliefs of Wangero reflect those of Black muslims following Muhammad, and the beliefs of Maggie reflect the religious change brought by Malcolm X.
Overall, the short story, “Everyday Use,” showed the complicated changes that were experienced during the Reconstruction Era. Although laws prohibited many advancements for African Americans, there were many that stood and fought to overcome prejudice through formal education. This attitude continued as political leaders rose to dominance in African American society. Lastly, along with the appearance of political leaders, the urge for religious guidance bore two powerful characters--Elijah and Malcolm. By weaving together opposing characters and themes of an era, Alice Walker is able to lead readers through a turbulent time in American history.
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