Alice Walker was a talented American writer. She was also a social activist, a feminist. We are going to tell about essay on Everyday Use by Alice Walker. The woman wrote a lot of short stories, poems, novels and journalistic articles. All of them are worth reading. Everyday Use Alice Walker essay is a short story about relations between mother and her two daughters.
Everyday Use by Alice Walker essay also includes some information about the author. Because, not knowing the life story of this woman, it is sometimes difficult to understand the deep context in her works.
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About the Alice Walker
Alice Walker was an eighth child in the Negro family. Her father was a sharecropper and her mother was a maid. From an early childhood Alice suffered from racism and social injustice. The grandfather told little Alice a lot of interesting stories, so the girl wrote her first short story at the age of 8th. Later happened an awful accident and Alice lost her sight in one eye. Her family was very poor, that’s why they could not bring Alice to the hospital in time.
She was the best pupil at school, and at college she became very active young lady, who tried to protect the civil rights. Her writing inheritance consists of several collections of poetry, collections of short stories, novels and some journalism articles. Maybe her childhood experience turned her into a fearless strong woman, who desperately protected for her own rights and for the rights of other women. She insisted that black women are also important in the society, not only the white ones.
Alice Walker’s stories are always very interesting, they became well-known not only in the United States. The main theme in her stories is the struggle for human dignity. This talented writer in her works described those facts, which she had understood from the life.
In 1973 Alice Walker published her short story collection “In Love and Trouble”. The story “Everyday Use” was one of the stories in this book. We read about black women (mother and two daughters) as well. Mother changed during the plot, as she started to realize the life from another point of view. During the plot we can watch as poor mother learn something new about her girls.
The story is written in the first person narration. The story teller is Mama herself. In a humorous style the author described the difference between these three women. Maggie (the younger daughter) was a very shy girl, who lived in a village with her mom. Her life corresponds to the black people traditions. At that time her elder sister Dee was an educated and very successful person, who hated her roots and tried to be a part of modern society.
In 2005 appeared the film, based on the plot of this story.
Mother and her second daughter called Maggie lived in the village. They were happy together, their life was quiet and peaceful. Maggie was going to marry a good farmer from their village. Everything was okay. But suddenly the elder Maggie’s sister Dee arrived. Mother remembered that her first daughter always hated their home. The girl even tried to burn the house. Then mother decided to send Dee to another place, where she could go to school.
Dee visited her family very rarely. As usual her visits always had a great reason. At that time she came to take away some family things (such as a churn and quilts). Dee behaved like a stranger. She started to make photos of mother, Maggie and their house.
Despite the churn was very important to Maggie, the girl did not opposed to her sister to take away this thing. But to give the quilts to Dee was really very difficult. Those quilts made their granny with a great love, and Maggie helped her. Dee decided to take away everything and to give to the museum. But these quilts should be a wedding present for Maggie. Dee could not understand it, she was absolutely sure that such things should be on the wall, but not in everyday using. And poor Maggie did not want to conflict with her sister. Then their mother intervened. She pulled out the quilts and gave them to Maggie. Dee was angry and cried that her relatives have a big problem – their heritage. After these words Dee went away.
Maggie and her mom came back to their peaceful existence.
In this short story we find out only three important characters.
Mother – we don’t know the name of this woman. But we understood that she is middle-aged African-American woman. She lives with her daughter. She is poor, but independent and proud of her own life.
Maggie – is a young shy girl. She loves her family, respects the traditions and is going to marry.
Dee – is an elder daughter who left her home many years ago. Dee is beautiful, well-educated but selfish person. She does not care about other people feelings.
Autobiographical features in the story
Alice Walker has a difficult life in the South, so she knew what she was writing about. Like poor Maggie, Alice also was injured when she was a little girl. And like Dee she left poverty and started teaching at school and later at collage. The author understands the both girls. The first girl wanted to keep the family traditions and the heritage, while the second one tried to be a part of modern society.
The Meaning Of The Title
The title “Everyday Use” has a deep meaning. To realize this meaning we can only after finishing reading the story. This phrase relates to the heritage. The question is whether the heritage should be preserved or people should start to use it every day?
The quilt is a deep symbol in this text. It is not the ordinary thing, but it symbolizes the history of the nation, their traditions. Thanks to the quilt clever women can pass the history from one generation to another.
I advise you to read this short story. It is really very easy to understanding and it want take you a lot of time to read it. After reading “Everyday Use” you will grasp something important and will look at some of the questions from the other side.