What is the story everyday use about

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what is the story everyday use about

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Alice Walkers early story, Everyday Use, has remained a cornerstone of her work. Her use of quilting as a metaphor for the creative legacy that African Americans inherited from their maternal ancestors changed the way we define art, womens culture, and African American lives. By putting African American womens voices at the center of the narrative for the first time, Everyday Use anticipated the focus of an entire generation of black women writers.

This casebook includes an introduction by the editor, a chronology of Walkers life, an authoritative text of Everyday Use and of In Search of Our Mothers Gardens, an interview with Walker, six critical essays, and a bibliography. The contributors are Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Houston A. Baker, Jr., Thadious M. Davis, Margot Anne Kelley, John OBrien, Elaine Showalter, and Mary Helen Washington.
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Published 06.12.2018

"Everyday Use" Analysis

See a complete list of the characters in "Everyday Use" and in-depth analyses of Mama, Maggie, and Dee. "Alice Walker's Short Story 'Everyday Use'".
Alice Walker

Everyday Use Summary

On a deeper level, Alice Walker is exploring the concept of heritage as it applies to African-Americans. This was a time when African-Americans were struggling to define their personal identities in cultural terms. She uses the principal characters of Mama, Dee Wangero , and Maggie to clarify this theme. Mama narrates the story. In the winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls during the day. This description, along with her reference to a 2nd grade education , leads the reader to conclude that this woman takes pride in the practical aspects of her nature and that she has not spent a great deal of time contemplating abstract concepts such as heritage. However, her lack of education and refinement does not prevent her from having an inherent understanding of heritage based on her love and respect for those who came before her.

Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" examines the divide between the rural, southern black in the 60's and 70's and the new progressive movement among the younger generation. When Dee goes to college she can barely wait to shake the dust off her feet from her poor, Georgia community. But when she comes back, irrevocably changed, Mama and Maggie, her sister, don't know how to understand or communicate with her. One of the interesting techniques that Alice Walker uses to tell her story is by making it a first person narrative told through Mama, an uneducated, rural Georgia, black woman, living in the past and unable to understand the present. She admits to the reader from an early point that she never understood Dee and the she and her older daughter clashed from the time that she was a young girl.

But she has written numerous other novels, stories, poems, and essays. They are nervously waiting for a visit from Maggie's sister Dee, to whom life has always come easy. Dee announces that she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, saying that she couldn't stand to use a name from oppressors. This decision hurts her mother, who named her after a lineage of family members. During the visit, Dee lays claim to certain family heirlooms, such as the top and dasher of a butter churn, whittled by relatives.

It was first published in as part of Walker's short story collection In Love and Trouble. The short story is told in first person by "Mama", an African-American woman living in the Deep South with one of her two daughters.
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You know, because it's got love… and trouble, trouble, trouble. Walker published this collection of stories in , exactly a decade before she won the Pulitzer Prize for a little book you might've heard of called The Color Purple. Like that super famous novel, "Everyday Use" explores African-American women's struggles with racial identity and racism during a particularly tumultuous period of history yeah, you guessed it, that's where some of the trouble comes from.

Everyday Use is told from the perspective of Mama , a "big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands". As the story begins, she hesitantly awaits the return of her eldest daughter Dee. Mama stands near her withdrawn and physically scarred younger daughter Maggie. As they await Dee's return, the reader is given details about Mama's life and her near estrangement with Dee. We learn that Dee always wanted more than her family history or Mama could offer her. While Dee is intelligent and driven, we get the clear sense that her accomplishments have come at the expense of her mother and little sister. Dee finally shows up with a young man named Hakim-a-barber , whom Mama refers to as "Asalamalakim".

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