Compare And Contrast Essay On Everyday Use By 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...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

966 words - 4 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker Through contrasting family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the importance of understanding our present life in relation to the traditions of our own people and culture. Using careful descriptions and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors contribute to the values of one's heritage and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects or mere...

Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

685 words - 3 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker In the story 'Everyday Use', by Alice Walker, the value of ones culture and heritage are defined as a part of life that should not be looked upon as history but as a living existence of the past. Walker writes of the conflict between two Black cultures. Dee and Maggie are sisters whom do not share the same ideals. Mama is torn between two children with different perspectives of what life truly means. ...

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

938 words - 4 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker In "Everyday Use," Alice Walker stresses the importance of heritage. She employs various ways to reveal many aspects of heritage that are otherwise hard to be noticed. In the story, she introduces two sisters with almost opposite personalities and different views on heritage: Maggie and Dee. She uses the contrast between the two sisters to show how one should accept and preserve one's heritage. Beyond the...

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

722 words - 3 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker In the short story Everyday Use, by Alice Walker, is narration by an African American woman in the South who is faced with the ultimate decision to whom she should give away the two quilts. Dee, her oldest daughter who is visiting from college, perceives the quilts as popular fashion and believes they should undoubtedly be given to her. Maggie, her youngest daughter, who still lives at home and understands the...

Everyday Use, by Alice Walker

1535 words - 6 pages Everyday Use, written by Alice Walker is a short story narrated from the eyes of the character Mama. The author uses cultural symbolism throughout her work to tell the tale of struggle between a mother and her two daughters. The tale unfolds at Mama’s house during the Civil rights movement in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when African Americans were struggling to define themselves and their heritage, the dialog shows conflicting views...

Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1240 words - 5 pages In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker used symbolism throughout the story. Symbolism is an object that has a special meaning for person. For example, Puerto Rican flag have one star and the star represent one colonies of United State. It also has three stripes. The stripes represent when you United State freedom us from Spain. The Egyptians use symbols to communicate by writing. Symbols are use in math equations, shape and sets of numbers. In the...

Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1856 words - 7 pages Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal sense. Symbols are used all over the world not only in stories but symbols are also used by helping people understand that some chemicals may be toxic by showing a skull on it. Others may have a recycling symbol to help the environment. You may not notice these kinds of symbols but if you pay close attention you’ll...

"Everyday Use" written by Alice Walker

535 words - 2 pages The story of Maggie Johnson in Alice Walker's Everyday Use is a story about a young girl who has many challenges in...

Symbolism in Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1849 words - 7 pages Symbolism isn’t as simple as it sounds. Symbolism is for objects that have true meaning to them. For example when you see a stop sign its true symbol it’s trying to show us is to stop. When it’s your birthday and you get something from someone really special to you it gets a true symbolism to you. The symbol on the streets explains to us in what directions we may go and what no to do, so the symbols in the streets are to show us what to do. In...

The History of Quilting Based on the story of Quilting "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker.

2247 words - 9 pages Quilts around the world have been a useful thing to most people and essential to African Americans who were brought to America, and were forbidden to practice their traditions. For the most part quilting has been a good thing to do for most people around the world especially African...

The Themes and Narration Techniques of Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1016 words - 4 pages The Themes and Narration Techniques of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker, was first published in 1973. The story opens as Maggie and her mother, a black farm woman, await a visit from Maggie's older sister, Dee, and a man who may be her husband--her mother is not sure whether they are actually married. Dee, who was always scornful of her family's way of life, has gone to college and now seems almost as...

A&P is a short story written by American writer John Updike. The story takes place during the summer in a small New England town where everything seems ordinary and gray. The story stars Sammy a nineteen-year-old boy working the checkout line of grocery store by the name of A&P. Sammy is working one day when in walks three teenage girls, wearing only their bathing suits. He is quickly infatuated by the scene for it is not one he comes across to often and begins to watch the girls closely. Sammy pays close attention to the appearance of the girls naming each one according to how he views them, there is “Plaid” the chunky one who got her name due to her swimsuit, “Big Tall Goony Goony” who he describes as attractive but falling short to “Queenie”, the girl who Sammy seems to be most infatuated with, she is the most striking out of the bunch getting her name due to being the leader of the group.

Sammy pays close attention to the three girls all the way to the point where they finally come to his register where they are confronted by his manager Lengel a very conservative man who ask the girls to come with their shoulders covered the next time they wish to enter his store. This sparks Sammy to quit and to chase the girls outside where to his surprise are gone.

Everyday Use is a short story written by American author Alice Walker. The story takes place in the late 1900’s in the south in a house that was rebuilt after it was burned down by a ferocious fire. The story stars Mama a big-boned woman with hands that are rough from years of physical labor that is poor and uneducated due to never being given the opportunity to break out of her rural life, she is also the story’s narrator. Mama and her daughter Maggie who is shy and self conscience due to her being burned and scarred by the fire that took down their house wait outside their home for the arrival of her older daughter Dee who is the exact opposite of Maggie being that she is educated and quite confident.

Dee arrives at the home of her mother with not only a new man, but a new look, she is very colorful and into her “heritage”. Mama, Maggie, Dee, and Dee’s male friend have dinner in which Dee tells Mama what she’s been doing with herself and ends with Dee wanting to leave with the butter churn. The butter churn isn’t the only item which Dee would like to leave with, she also wants two quilts made by her ancestors, but Mama says no for they are promised to her sister Maggie. Dee leaves the house outraged telling her mother she doesn’t understand her heritage.

Two scenes that I feel share a common message is Sammy’s decision to quit A&P and Mama’s decision to not let Dee have her way and give Maggie the quilt. Both characters decided this would be their time to take a stand against something they felt was not right. For Sammy it was a decision driven by his lust for Queenie, for Mama it was finally saying no to the daughter who she feels unappreciated by. Sammy’s decision ends with him having no job and no women, but a better sense of what he wants in life which is a desire to get away from the norm that is his job and town and go out and experience opportunities beyond his limit.

Mama’s decision had the opposite effect of what Sammy’s had, she not only grew closer to her daughter Maggie, but she realized that she’s happy being the woman she is, she doesn’t have to change herself . Mama is proud of her life and of being a practical hardworking woman. Both A&P and Everyday Use are similar in the fact that we have characters struggling to find out what it is they want from their lives, but are different in the sense of what the characters actually realize they want.

Leave a Comment

(0 Comments)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *