Everyday Use By Alice Walker Analysis

Submitted By salina8
Words: 1454
Pages: 6

Salina Singh
Lydia Hearn
November 19, 2013

Leaving the real self behind

Making a quilt, keeping a generational name, using a butter churn and dasher, valuing and respecting family’s treasurable gifts. To one soul this may mean a person’s identity, but for another this is nothing less than something you just do on an occasion. To ultimately appreciate your own culture; its critical you need to experience and embrace everything that’s been given rather then display it elsewhere. Walker addresses that a person who truly has heritage and culture makes use of it every day of their life. "Everyday Use" is a short story of cultural difference in the American society caused by racial issues. One can agree that heritage and culture is taught and learned though generations; you can either embrace what been pass or loose it. Walker shows readers that tension does exist between mama and Dee on how she breaks out of the cultural norm and lives a life of her own, regardless of the opinions of others.

During the 1960s is when the story took place which in fact was when the black movement right after civil war occurred. At this time, African American s tried reestablish social, political, cultural, and identity. Its evident that the whites had an a major effect on African American which led them to want to discover their own roots. Its quite obvious the reason why Walker had this story taken place during that time but also too acknowledge the slaves that went through slavery at that time as well. The history grabs the reader’s attention, which will help illustrate what mama’s ancestors went through. It captures a picture of dark, violent, and cruel past in which the salves- ancestors overcame. “Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye? Whereas, Dee would look at anyone in the eye. (Walker 154) Mama and Maggie refuses to look at Caucasian in the eye, which clearly shows they both never managed to embrace the fact of equality. Mama still hasn’t fully let go of the past struggles and remains a victim. Although Maggie never lived the like of mama but Maggie is more in tied with her roots so she acts in such where she feels the need to reject whites as well. Dee, on the other hand from the very beginning does the opposite of what both Maggie and mama so and doesn’t acknowledge anything from the past. Walker established to leave one odd character in the story to address the cultural difference.

Other then the history of the past affecting Mama and Maggie, education separates Dee from the family. Even though mamas school got shut down at grade 2nd, that left mama to become illiterate. Racism and white power controlled mama’s life at a very young age. The only thing she had was the love from her family what she cherishes and respects all the memories. Hendrie mentions a perfect example in which she states “Not only were African-American schools in session fewer days per year […] [b]ut also absent to work in the fields. High schools for blacks were often nonexistent”(14-15 ). Not only were whites getting top priority for everything meanwhile blacks were getting few opportunity due to their skin color. There was a lot of inequality taking place; whites and blacks were segregated which led to issues later I feel it is important to incorporate why mama felt the way she did about whites and how she is not able to look them in the eye. It all comes back to equality and she hasn’t fully embraced white folks due to the past history. Dee didn’t in fact have to go through that hardships therefore, she was more successful then her mama in her education which ended up backfiring mama.

The comparison of Mama and Dee’s education demonstrates that Walker wanted it clear to the audience to show how important it is the way they both reacted to their situation. For example, had Dee went through what mama did before the civil war; I feel that Dee would maybe get a better since of her heritage. But instead, Dee