Student`s Name

and Analysis of academic articles by Alice Walker

Asan African American, Alice Walker was the first woman to win theawards of Pulitzer Prize for her very well-known novel of ‘TheColor Purple’, andthe American Book Award. She is not only a novelist but a writer ofshort stories, a poet as well as a feminist and an activist[ CITATION Pat85 l 1033 ].In hershort stories book ‘Everyday Use’, Walker describes the fightbetween the African and the Americans who were scuffling in quench ofdefining their individual identities in traditional, social as wellas social terms. An ‘Everyday Use’ short story is one of thewell-known and wonderful short stories for Alice Walker. Walkeraddresses someconcerns of heritage in this story which builds somesort of disagreement and conflict among the persons of the story.There is such a great story when she uses a symbol of ‘quilt’ andthe variance of comprehending the family’s heritage between Mamaand Maggi with Dee [ CITATION Dav96 l 1033 ].The aim of this research is to not only summarize but analyze theliterature of this tale as well as determineall the possible protuberantclarifications. The paper will look atthe main characters of the story and discuss about plot summary, andthesis. It will aswell see if the article provides a convincing argument and how itinforms my understanding of the topic as a whole. All these aspectsthat the paper will develop, it will provide prove of good evidences. I have so much interest in this topic ever since I read AliceWalker’s novel ‘The Color Purple’ that gave me more vigor toread more about her works.


‘EverydayUse’ story revolves around three main characters Mama, Maggie andDee. The narrator of this story is a woman called Mama, who isMaggi’s and Dee’s mother. Mama describes herself as ‘alarge, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands’ who hassomewhat tried to enjoy a rough rural life in the country. Mama isnow living in a tiny house with the roof covered by tin. Her yard issituated in the middle of a cow meadowland and is surrounded by clay.Mama expects to live alone in peace after her daughter Maggi ismarried soon. Dee is expected to arrive any time. Mama makes adecision of waiting in the yard for Dee’s coming. In her mind, Mamaknows that Maggie will not be so comfortable during Dee’s stay.This is because of the insecurities Maggie has over her appearance.Maggie has burn marks as well as scars that she sustained while shewas young and this always makes her to be ever self-conscious. Due tothis, Maggie’s self-efficacy and self-esteem of herself is verylow. She is jealousy of Dee’s life, which she thinks is much easierthan hers [ CITATION Niw13 l 1033 ].

Meanwhile,Mama is imagining of various reunion scenes that she has watched onthe television programs. In those programs, she sees a fruitfuldaughter hugging her parents for making her prosperity possible. Attimes, Mama fantasizes reuniting with Dee in the same setup in astudio full of cameras where Dee is brought out by the host in acordial way with Dee’s eyes full of tears and embraces Mama with along warm hug. Mama’s fantasy is disrupted by the scufflingentrance of Maggie in the yard. At this juncture, Mama recollects thehouse fire that occurred more than ten years ago, when she carriedMaggie, who had sustained very ugly and bad burns, from the house.Dee despised that house so she just watched as the fire consumed it.

Mamawas so astonished to see Dee arrive with a very long orange and golddress. Her golden earrings were rattling and she had many bracelets.Her hair stood as ‘straight as the wool of a sheep’. Dee salutesthem with an African greeting on the other hand, her boyfriend givesthem a Muslim salutation. He tries to offer Maggie a ritual handshakethat Maggie does not have a clue of. Dee decides to take her camerafrom the car and takes a few pictures for Maggie and Mama in front oftheir house. Dee tells Mama that she has changed her name from Dee toWangero, so as to object to being named after the people that haveput her under cruelties. Her mother gives her a brief history of whoshe was named after but Dee is adamant with her new African name,which gives Mama a hard time to pronounce. Dee notices that hermother is struggling to pronounce her new name, she opts to do awaywith it and retain her known name, but Mama eventually learns topronounce it. Nevertheless, Mama is still having a rough timepronouncing Dee’s boyfriend’s name Hakim. Mama says that Hakimmust be a relative of the Muslims who live down the road and whosemain activity is to rear beef cattle. Dee’s boyfriend says that inas much as he accepts some of his people’s dogmas, he is neitherinto farming nor rearing of animals. Mama is unsure if Hakim-a-barberand her daughter Dee are married. While on the dining table, Dee’sboyfriend says that he neither takes collard nor pork. Dee takesbutter from the corner and asks her mother whether she can have itstop that was carved by Uncle Buddy.

Deegoes through the trunk which is at the foot of her mother’s bed.She comes back with a couple of quilts that her mother, grandma andaunt made. In the quilts are tiny pieces of clothes that relativeswore during the civil war. Dees asks Mama if she can have the quilts.Mama tells Dee to take other quilts. Nevertheless, Dee maintains thatshe wanted the quilts that were hand-sewn by her grandma. Mama isleft with no choice than to tell Dee that Maggie had been promisedthose quilts, so Dee cannot have them. After an inhalation, Deeargues that her sister Maggie was incapable of taking good care ofthe quilts and she won’t appreciate them at all. At this point,Mama hopes that Maggie can designate the quilts for day-to-day use,but Dee argues that the valuable quilts will be ruined. Dee’smother persists that Maggie has the knowledge of making quilts and soshe can make more quilts. With an aim of making peace, Maggiescuffles in and gives the quilts to Dee. Looking at Maggie, Mama isstruck by unfamiliar feeling that can be compared to the spirit shenormally feels when in church. Spontaneously, she embraces Maggie andpulls her inside the room. She then takes the quilts away from Dee’shands and placed them in Maggie’s lap. Mama then offers Dee to takeeither one or two of the quilts. While leaving with her boyfriendHakim, Dee notifies Mama that Mama does not have a clue of what herown heritage entails. Dee kisses Maggie and tells her to try andadvance herself since a new dawn for black Americans had come.

Maggieand Mama watch as Dee and Hakim drove off, and sits still in thequiet of the yard till the time for them to go to bed.



Inthe story of ‘Everyday Use’, Maggie and Dee shows theircontrasting family views on what they see as heritage. This is seenin the idea of a quilt. They think that a quilt is a symbol for thehistory of the family. The quilt stands for their ancestors’ livesand not just piece of garments sewn together. The quilt is used torepresent each ancestor’s lives and narrates a story with everysingle stitch. Dee rejects her former history’s heritage and buildsa new heritage by changing her name to Wangero[ CITATION Dav96 l 1033 ].Shehas a strong belief that the name she has chosen represents herAfrican heritage properly thus failing to look over the family’slegacy attached with her name. She as well considers her pastheritage dead, relative to the living creations[ CITATION Dav96 l 1033 ].According to Mama, Maggie is the one meant to have the quilts sinceshe will preserve them. On the other hand, Dee beliefs that she is ina better position to take care of the quilts and not Maggie. There isirony when she tells Maggie to learn her heritage since Dee herselfis the one who doesn’t understand her heritage[ CITATION Niw13 l 1033 ].Maggie is seen to be appreciating her heritage any time she makes useof the quilts. Dee does not want the quilts because the Aunt she wasnamed afterwas the one who made them, but she wants them for her own reasons.She has a feeling that her names symbolizes those who oppressed her,so she changes her name into a new name that has absolutely no tieswith her family heritage [ CITATION Jul07 l 1033 ].

Notonly has education separated Dee from her family, but from a truesense of herself as well. She was not so happy about her life thather mother was forced to unite with the church so as to raise moneyfor her school fees at Augusta. The writer puts together the burningof Maggie with the burning of knowledge into Mama and Maggie. Dee wassearching for worldly knowledge but Mama and Maggie had the heritageknowledge. Moral, values, skills and knowledge are conveyed from onegeneration to another through education. Nevertheless, the power ofeducation is not supposed to be used to offend others as Dee did. Herquest for education has created a deep crack between her and herfamily. On the other hand, Maggie’s lack of education has damagedher. From the story, education as well as lack of it has proven to bedangerous for Maggie and Dee [ CITATION Jef11 l 1033 ].


Thisarticle, according to the research above, provides a very convincingargument. Furthermore, ‘Everyday Use’ covers the topic so welland leaves the reader satisfied with the article. There have beenmany arguments as well as criticism for Walker’s articles, but tome, her articles are not only interesting but informative as well.Her thesis is clear that the African Americans went through a lot ofpain and humiliation in the hands of Americans in 60s and 70s. Whatinterests me most with this article is the way Walker has brought outsymbolism to express issues that confront us in our day-to-day life.


Abrams, Patricia Harris. The Gift of Loneliness: Alice Walker`s The Color Purple. Language Arts journal for Michigan 1985, vol 1. Web.

David, Cowart. Heritage and deracination in walker’s everyday use. Retrived march 20th 2015. Web.

Moore, Julie. Heritage symbolism alice walkers everyday use. Retrived march 20th 2015. Web.

Obaid, Niwar A. Literary Analysis of Everyday Use by Alice Walker. Retrived march 20th 2015. Web.

Sapp, Jeff. “Everyday Use” Analyzing Characterization and Point of View in Alice Walker’s Short Fiction. Retrived march 20th 2015. Web.