Literary Analysis Essay on Everyday Use by Alice Walker

2021-06-08 13:17:51
3 pages
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Harvey Mudd College
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Walker, A. (1994). Everyday use. B. T. Christian (Ed). Rutgers University Press.

This source by Alice Walker is the primary source of the thesis stated above. The story is about a mother and two daughters who have conflicting ideas about their own identities and ancestry. In the short story, the mother is narrating the story of one of her daughters, Dee, who has visited from college for one day. The visiting daughter, however, clashes with the other daughter known as Maggie, over the possession of heirloom quilts. The story begins with the description of the mother a big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands who is eagerly waiting for her daughter, Dee, who is educated and lives in the city. She is accompanied by her younger daughter, Maggie, who is described as a shy girl and regarded her sister with a mixture of envy and awe.

To enhance further understanding of the relationship between the mother and the two girls, the narrator describes the history of the family involving a fire that destroyed their first house. According to the story, the fire scarred Maggie badly on both her arms and legs. The history gives the readers a clear definition of the two daughters: Maggie with her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little peppery flakes while Dee standing off under the sweet gum tree with a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red-hot chimney. The two daughters took diverging paths after the fire. Dee, who was determined and ambitious since childhood, has risen above her humble beginnings due to the efforts of her mother and the church that held a fundraising to take her off to school. Maggie, on the other hand, has very little education and is not bright naturally according to her mother but is engaged to be married.

When Dee arrives, the narrator describes her clothing as bright while her boyfriend Hakim, who is a barber, has wild-looking hair. Dee greets them in a language they do not understand and explains to them that she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo because the old name stood for oppression. She later reveals the main reason for visiting, which was to collect objects from home that portrayed her heritage. She tries to look for the objects and takes the butter chun and later finds the quilts made by her familys generation. She takes it as a piece of art since it contained pieces of shirts and dresses worn by her old family members, declaring them priceless. Maggie, however, had been promised the quilts for her wedding but is prepared to give up her rights to them to avoid arguing with her sister.

The mother decides to give Maggie the quilts when Maggie easily gives in to her sisters demands saying she can member Grandma Dee without the quilts. This was mainly because Maggie was not used to winning any arguments or anything in particular. The narrator states that the mother snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangeros hands and dumped them into Maggies lap giving Maggie her first real smile.

Martin, J. (2014). The Quilt Threads Together Sisterhood, Empowerment and Nature in Alice Walker's the Color Purple and" Everyday Use". Journal of Intercultural Disciplines, 14, 27.

This source mainly explores the power of sisterhood in families and women empowerment by differentiating between the educated sister and the uneducated one. According to the short story, the two sisters, Maggie and Dee, were not in good terms with one another because of their different lifestyles. The analysis reveals Dees determination to get educated and the importance she places on herself. She uses her newly-acquired skills to oppress and manipulate her mother and her sister by forcing words and lying to them and the community. Her mother recalls, Dee washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didnt necessarily need to know. The article therefore describes how education can be mishandled and used to oppress the uneducated in the society. The article also portrays the theme of sisterhood by portraying the mothers new appreciation of Maggie which establishes a new relationship between them. Maggies character not only represents acquisition of an individual voice but also the integration of the community.

Dean, M., Hancock, M. W., Kind, L., Kotlarczyk, A., Micklo, E., & Townsend, T. A. (2015). Thoughts on African American Literature From the IMSA English Department.

This source contains commentaries that explore on the mothers comparison between one of the daughters superficiality and the other daughters deep understands of the heritage. Dee, the elder older daughter, is learned and places herself above everyone else in the family and in the community. She has a convincing voice and uses complex words to convince everyone to agree to her ideas. The article, therefore, explains how education can be confusing and can be used for exploitation. Maggie, on the other hand, is portrayed as the naive sister who is not bright and does not keep up with the current styles used by the young people. Despite this, Maggie manages to possess the quilts due to her love for the familys heritage and the memories associated with it. Most readers agree that the mother increased Maggies self-worth by giving her the quilts hence giving her a voice of her own.

References

Dean, M., Hancock, M. W., Kind, L., Kotlarczyk, A., Micklo, E., & Townsend, T. A. (2015). Thoughts on African American Literature From the IMSA English Department.

Martin, J. (2014). The Quilt Threads Together Sisterhood, Empowerment and Nature in Alice Walker's the Color Purple and" Everyday Use". Journal of Intercultural Disciplines, 14, 27.

Walker, A. (1994). Everyday use. B. T. Christian (Ed). Rutgers University Press

 

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