Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1078 words 5 pages
Sarah Benesh
Dr. Susan Dauer
English 1102
2 Febuary 2011 Analyzation of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker In 1972, Alice Walker published “Everyday Use” in a collection of short stories In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black women. As better known “Everyday Use” stood out of the collection, it has become one of few short stories about the conflict black Americans faced after the Civil Rights Movement; The struggle to maintain traditions, whilst embracing new-found freedom, and where the two worlds collided. Discussing the reoccurring themes, symbols and motifs through the narrator’s perception, and actions will reveal if the character, and ultimately the reader himself has grown or remained static in affect of the conflict. As
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In this instance, Dee can be portrayed as the round character, ever changing to fit her surroundings; while Mama and Maggie, the former who does not reveal their name, and the latter who has a normal name, can be portrayed as the flat characters. However, this can be contradicted. In the beginning of the story, Mamas perception of Dee is somewhat tainted by her personal differences from Dee. The fact that Mama was not able to complete her education completely, while still providing an education for her daughter served as a wedge in between the two. Dee looked down upon mama for her lack of education, and Mama felt victimized by Dee’s overwhelming need to prove her higher intellect. For example, Dee’s greeting "Wa-su-zo-Tean-o!" (Walker 454), a term which her mother and Maggie she knew could not understand. In result, she always assumed Dees word to be true and unworthy of contradiction. However, in the end of the story, Mama realizes that even though Dee might have a higher education and therefore exposure to the world, she still did not learn the value of the her true heritage. Something that cannot be learned through school work, and cannot be appreciated through study, was the legacy of her ancestors, something Dee adamantly dismissed as irrelevant. Mama then becomes a round character, than can overcome the overshadow of her daughter and prove that all the education in the world cannot help keep culture


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