Essay on the Setting of Everyday Use

Essay on the Setting of Everyday Use

Length: 609 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
   In the short story, "Everyday Use", author Alice Walker uses everyday objects, which are described in the story with some detail, and the reactions of the main characters to these objects, to contrast the simple and practical with the stylish and faddish. The main characters in this story, "Mama" and Maggie on one side, Dee on the other, each have opposing views on the value and worth of the various items in their lives, and the author uses this conflict to make the point that the substance of an object, and of people, is more important than style.

The main characters in this story appear to be polar opposites. Mama, the narrator of the story, describes herself as a "large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands" (paragraph 5). She does not paint an attractive picture of herself, however she goes on to list the many things she can do. Like the items in the setting around her, she seems more interested in practicality, and less interested in aesthetics. Dee, on the other hand, is defined by her sense of style, and does not seem to do anything. When her name was Dee, she hated the objects around her for their lack of beauty and style. When she became a member of the Nation of Islam and changed her name to Wangero, she saw these old items as a part of her heritage and works of art. At no time, however, did she ever have a real use for them.

Examples of such items are the butter churn and dasher. The butter churn and dasher are both described in detail by Mama, which highlights their value to her. The butter churn, which had been whittled by Dee's Uncle Buddy, was something that Dee wanted to take back with her, even though she only wanted to use the churn top as a "centerpiece for the alcove table" (paragraph 53). The bottom half, presumably, would be wasted. Dee would also "think of something artistic to do with the dasher" (paragraph 53). Dee never seems to consider that she is taking away her mother's butter churn, a useful item, for a trivial use.

The objects that lead to the final confrontation between Dee and Mama are the old quilts. These quilts are described as being made from old material by family members, which enhances their value to Mama, and the detail with which they are described increases the sense of setting.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Essay on the Setting of Everyday Use." 29 Mar 2020

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Appreciation of Ones Hertiage through the Story of Dee in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

- Alice Walker’s story, “Everyday Use,” Dee the main character says, “ I couldn’t bear it any longer after the people who oppressed me.” Dee’s words during the story demonstrate the theme, that she is becoming more appreciative of her lineage unlike in the past when she was not quite fond of it. She is back home on a visit. The moment she came down from the car, walked up to her family, she greeted “Wa-su-zo-Taen-o!” This shows that she is really putting an effort to represent her cultural background....   [tags: background, setting, character, symbol]

Research Papers
777 words (2.2 pages)

The Importance of Heritage in "Everyday Use" Essay

- In “Everyday Use ” by Alice Walker the exact setting is never revealed and therefore, can only be guessed, but it has been guessed that the story takes place on a country side in Georgia. At one point in the story Augusta is mentioned. The time is also estimated to be during the Civil Rights Movement around the year of 1973. Mrs. Johnson, along with her two daughters, reside in a small three room house, and take pride in there small yard. As Maggie and Dee grow older they start to realize how important their heritage, and family heirlooms are, Maggie in particular....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Research Papers
844 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about Everyday Use By Alice Walker

- In the short story, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, is written in manner to inspire the reader to show them how deep some family traditions can go. Walker, in her writings, tend to talk about issues that she had experienced in her life, and being an African American, she has learned the value of certain things in her life that her parents and grandparents had taught her. The quilt is so important to Dee because it is something that tells a story of the previous generation; the quilt actually consists of pieces of material that the family once used....   [tags: Short story, Family, Quilting, Fiction]

Research Papers
1625 words (4.6 pages)

Poverty in Everyday Use, Sonny's Blues, and The Cathedral Essay

- Poverty in Everyday Use, Sonny's Blues, and The Cathedral Works Cited Not Included Comparing ?Everyday Use?, ?Sonny?s Blues. and ?The Cathedral?, one can conclude that they share a common meaning. Although all three stories consider poverty as their theme, each chooses to elaborate it in a different manner. In fact, ?Everyday Use. emphasizes on the state of extreme poverty in which certain people live. On the other hand, ?Sonny?s Blues. contributes to the theme by describing the poverty of spirit of Harlem?s ?inner kids?....   [tags: Papers Everyday Sonny's Cathedral Essays]

Research Papers
874 words (2.5 pages)

Food Choices Based on Gender and Social Setting Essay

- On an average day, most Americans are consuming some quantity of food. With the consumption of food, there is an underlying message in what they choose they eat. Their choices of intake are more than just needs of survival, they extend far beyond that. By Americans being allowed to choose their own foods to eat, they’re given a feeling of power and satisfaction. Food choice is a convoluted behavior that is derived from instinct and is derived from many integral factors. Since the early 1800s, men and women were given distinct roles in society....   [tags: gender, environment, social, setting]

Research Papers
731 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about Accepting One's Heritage in "Everyday Use"

- Author Alice Walker is an African American woman who grew up in the rural south during segregation, as is the narrator in "Everyday Use", Ms. Johnson. Walker feels that one's name should be revered for its symbol of ancestry, as she did when she took back her maiden name to honor her great-great-great-grandmother. In Walker's "Everyday Use," she uses a symbolic quilt to express the differences of understanding one's heritage within a single family. The precise setting of "Everyday Use" is not given but it can be assumed that the geographical setting is in a southern countryside likely to be in Georgia....   [tags: American Literature]

Research Papers
772 words (2.2 pages)

“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker Essay

- In its simplest form, a child is a product of a man and a woman but Alice Walker one of the foremost authors during the twentieth century, adds depth to her black American women by focusing on the role that race and gender played in their development. Family reunions can be times of great anticipation, excitement and happiness but for Dee, a young, beautiful, African American and our leading character, it was a reunion with underlying, unspoken tensions. Dee was Dee but Dee had changed; a new husband, nice clothes, and a college degree to boat....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Research Papers
1296 words (3.7 pages)

Use of Theme in "Everyday Use" Essay

- The theme of Everyday Use is not immediately apparent, although Alice Walker begins the story by creating a familiar setting in the comfort of home that lead to the spirit of heritage and its importance in our lives. The protagonist, a single mother of two daughters, sees herself as ."..large...rough... slow-witted" and not fitting into the social strata of her oldest daughter, Dee, who ."..has held life always in the palm of her hand." The story begins with the mother preparing the yard to be ."..more comfortable than most people an extended living room" for Dee's homecoming....   [tags: American Literature]

Research Papers
700 words (2 pages)

Imagery in "Everyday Use" Essay

- Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, wrote "Everyday Use," which tells a story of a rugged, independent mother of two girls who celebrate their African-American heritage in completely different ways. One daughter, Maggie, celebrates her heritage by enjoying and appreciating the use of family heirlooms whereas the other daughter, Dee, feels it is more honorable to display these heirlooms for artistic show. Walker's use of imagery illuminates the story's theme of family heritage and, quite possibly the most respectful way of celebrating such heritage....   [tags: American Literature]

Research Papers
780 words (2.2 pages)

Essay about Everyday Use

- RR: “Everyday Use” My Sister, My Enemy Often siblings are brought up in the same environment and turn out completely different. This is the case in Alice Walkers, “Everyday Use”. Although two sisters, Maggie and Dee, are raised by the same woman and in the same home, their similarities end here. Both are different in their appearance, personalities, and ideas about family heritage. Each having opposing views on value and worth of the various items in their lives. Walker uses this conflict to make the point that the use of an object and of people, is more important than style....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
618 words (1.8 pages)

Related Searches

Dee sees the quilts as having historical and cultural value because of the hand stitching and material used. Mama had promised the quilts to Maggie, and Maggie's reaction to the news that Dee wants them shows that Maggie has an emotional attachment to them as well. "Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" Dee says. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use." (paragraph 66). The fact that Dee only wants to hang them on a wall to be looked at defines the argument the author is trying to make.

The objects in this story, described with loving detail by Mama, are used to enhance the setting of a story about the worth of everyday items to different types of people. As these items are described, they become significant to the reader, and the reader can identify with the value of them to both Mama and Dee. The author uses these everyday items to symbolize the story's focus on the beauty and worth of plain objects and average people, over that which is flashy, stylish, and ultimately useless.

Work Cited

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use". An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan, et al. 409-415.
Return to