Compare Contrast Essay Everyday Use Alice Walker

"Everyday Use" By Alice Walker Comparison Of The Values Held By The Three Main Characters

In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker the family quilt is used as a symbol of the values that each family member holds dear. To Maggie the quilt is just another thing she has to give up. To Dee the quilt is a symbol of rising above her poor past. To their mother the quilt is symbolic of the roots of her family.

The oldest daughter, Dee values her friend's approval. While she is growing up she doesn't have many friends. In fact when her mother mentions this, Maggie makes the comment, "Mama, when did Dee ever have any friends?" (91) Now that Dee has made some friends at school she wants to impress them by displaying her African heritage. This is obvious by the clothing she wears, from her traditional African dress, which is long and bright yellow and orange, to her gold earrings and dangling bracelets. Even her hair is styled in an ethnic hairstyle. Dee has chosen a new African name, Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, and greets her family using a Black Muslim greeting. These are the type of things that black women in the 70's commonly did as a way of contributing in some small way to the civil rights movement. She rejects her family name because she doesn't like "being named after the people who oppress me." (92) She wants to have the family artifacts as a way of showing off to, and fitting in with, her new friends. When her mother asks her what she will do with the quilts Dee replies, "Hang them." (94) To which her mother comments, "as if that was the only thing you could do with quilts." (94) Dee has made a better life for herself and wants her friends to see how far she has risen above her past.

In contrast to Dee, Maggie does not covet anything in the house. In fact, when Dee and her mother are discussing the quilts, Maggie comments, "She can have them, Mama," (94) and the narrator adds, "like somebody used to never winning anything or having anything reserved for her." (94) Maggie sees the quilts as a gift she can give her sister to help win her sister's approval. Maggie is a neglected child who is starved for the love and attention of her mother and sister. The mother comments that when Maggie first...

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Comparsion Of Kincaid's Girl And Walker's Everyday Use Essay

1600 Words7 Pages

Everyone is raised within a culture with a set of customs and morals handed down by those generations before them. Most individual’s view and experience identity in different ways. During history, different ethnic groups have struggled with finding their place within society. In the mid-nineteen hundreds, African Americans faced a great deal of political and social discrimination based on the tone of their skin. After the Civil Rights Movement, many African Americans no longer wanted to be identified by their African American lifestyle, so they began to practice African culture by taking on African hairdos, African-influenced clothing, and adopting African names. By turning away from their roots, many African Americans embraced a…show more content…

The examination of black women's need to keep their powerful heritage and identity is important to the protagonist in “Everyday Use.” Walker uses the mother’s voice to show the trials and tribulations of a small African American family located in the South. She speaks on multiple levels, voicing the necessity and strength of being true to one's roots and past; that heritage is not just something to talk about, but to live and enjoy in order for someone to fully understand themselves. Unlike Kincaid, Walker gives her black female character’s an identity of their own, each in their own right, and observes the internal conflicts of each mother and daughters struggle with identity. The mother represents a simple content way of life where identity and heritage are valued for both its usefulness, as well as its personal significance. In order to illustrate how the mother viewed identity versus her daughters, Walker quickly acknowledges that the mother has inherited many customs and traditions from her ancestors. She describes herself as a large big-boned woman with rough man-working hands (485). She also describes here various abilities including, killing and cleaning a hog as mercilessly as a man. Being able to work hard and not care about being such a lady, is how the mother defines identity at this point. On the other hand, the two daughters each have opposing views on the value and worth of the different items

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