“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker Essay

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Alice Walker short story, "Everyday Use" is built around three main characters Maggie,Mama, and Dee. These three main characters are crucial to understanding the primary concepts of the story and the historical background of the short story. Walker builds her underlying concepts through the use of the character’s culture, pride, and learning who they are. Walker is trying to show the two sisters Dee and Maggie as almost enemies. Not necessarily enemies that despise each other, but they do have some type of tension between each other.

In " Everyday Use" by Alice Walker is trying to portray the sisters against each other in order to see the two point of views. This shows through tone which makes the value of the quilt change and more complex. Walker’s short story is primarily about the life of Mama and her two daughters. Dee also who changes her name to Wangero is known to be the superior character of the three. Maggie is the one who lives with their mom. Maggie is not as successful as Dee, and belittles Maggie in a sense. She only returns back to visit in order to obtain one thing, a quilt. She sees this quilt as a treasure. Mama does not let her take the quilt and instead gives it Maggie, and Dee or Wangero is not fond with the idea so she leaves in anger. Dee is selfish and thinks that she is better than everyone. She claims to love her background and where she came from, which is why she wants the quilt in the first place. If she loved ber culture so much like she claims to then she would not have changed her name to Wangero. If she was truly proud of her heritage than she would not claim that she "could not bear it any longer, being named after people who oppressed me" (Walker, 1571). She changes little details about herself in order to make her feel like she has the control now in her life, not the oppressors. Wangero values the heirloom’s of her family, but rather than giving them use she wants to admire them and use them for nothing more than a conversations starter.

There is not necessarily anything wrong with wanting to value the quilt and hanging it up, but it should be used for truly acknowledging their culture. Wangero is viewed as the antagonist, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to value what her family has made. If anything Mama has set up to how things have turned out with her family. She allowed Dee to grow up and do as she pleases rather than pushing more towards her personal life style. It is obvious that the quilt is "priceless" as Wangero refers it (Walker, 1573). The only reason why she returns home is to get her hands on the quilt and be able to admire it, much like an painter would admire their artwork. Towards the end of the short story Wangero does not get what she wanted and leaves with anger inside of her. She claims that Mamma and Maggie do not "understand their heritage" (Walker, 1574).

The value of the quilt is has gone down drastically at the end of the short story when Wangero storms out of Mama’s and Maggie’s presence. She realizes that Mama is not going to give it to her so it is not as significant as she once made it seem. Mama gave Wangero the option to take other quilts, but she refused. To Wangero it was not about her heritage, it was ultimately about just making herself look good and express her roots in the best way she could make it appear. Wangero tells Maggie she "ought make something of yourself" (Walker, 1574). Wangero’s tone to her emphasizes how she thinks that she is better than her because of how she lives lavish and Maggie does not.

On the other hand, the quilt is something that has kept their family connected for generations. Maggie does not necessarily fight for the the quilt to stay in her presence, but she does understand that it is important to her family, she just does not want to argue with anyone. Maggie is a more good hearted and understands the true meaning of her heritage. Mama is ultimately the one with the final say of who gets to obtain the quilts. She decides to put her foot down and not give Wangero what she wants like she is used to. Mama "snacthes the quilts from miss Wangero’s hands" is showing Maggie the support of her wanting to maintain and preserve a lasting relationship and connection with their heritage. (Walker, 1574). Ultimately, Walker tries to aim to emphasize how the quilt should be given use. They should actually be used in Maggie’s and Mama’s everyday lives. Mama wants the quilts to be used as a quilt should be, not to be hung and just looked at.

In Alice Walker’s short story "Everyday Use" is a captivating story full of symbolism. Walker builds the underlying concepts throughout each of the main characters. The importance of culture and recognizing that it can not be simply picked up like Wangero wanted to do. Heritage is passed down throughout many generations, and appreciated in many ways and is applied in everyday life. Through the pride, culture, and tone of the main characters, it is clear to understand that the quilts meant more than just a raggedy old blanket, it made a mark in Mama’s family history ongoing despite the fact that they were oppressed, it kept the generations alive and connected.

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"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker Essay. (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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