Plot Overview: Alice Walker’s Everyday Use
Everyday Use is a short story by Alice Walker. It was written in a first-person account. It is a short narrative that narrates the story of a lady, or mother in a conflicted relationship. This conflicted relationship is between her, and her two daughters. In the short story, Alice tries to address the issue of heritage that exists among the African American minority group. The eldest daughter is struggling to be successful, but is rather superficial. The youngest daughter, however, is seen to be less fortunate but is more practical. The mother, however, favors the youngest daughter and rejects all that is stood for by the eldest daughter. This is what leads to the conflict between the parties involved.
The story is set in a time in history that focused on African Americans to define their personal identities. This was in terms of their cultural heritage and background. The roots were needed to be redefined by the African Americans. They were ready to reject the pain and suffering they went through in the American society. In this short story, an argument is brought forth by the author. Alice argues that African Americans have American and African roots. She further goes on to claim that denying either side would be quite harmful and detrimental to an individual (Walker 408).
To describe the theme that is being discussed, the author uses characters such as Mama, Maggie, and Dee. Mama is described as a rough-boned woman with hands like those of a man. The fact that she could kill and clean a hog like any man is not left out in her description (Walker 409). Her lack of education does not stop her love for those who came before her from growing. There are a few things that show of the relation that Mama has with the people of the past. The quilts she has represented the people who had them from some time back.
The connection between the characters is seen in some of the items that they use. The churn, for example, is used by the author to show of the connection between Mama and her family (Walker 412). The author talks of pride that exist between the African American people. This is seen in the character played by Dee. She, however, does a disservice to the African American pride. She does not like the fact that others take it upon themselves to forget about the hardships that others might have undergone. This is, however, seen as hypocritical.
In her presence, Mama and Maggie should be humbled. She even changes her name and takes on a new African one. Even though she has denounced her American name, she does not stop acting like one. She is considered to have adopted a fake African heritage (Walker 411). This is where the superficial nature is seen. Maggie, on the other hand, is depicted as the original African American type. She is depicted as the type of African American that was used to obeying her masters. The main theme is seen when the daughters are to take ownership of the quilts that Mama had in her possession. They were supposed to be the defining factor of the African American heritage.
In conclusion, the author’s interest in African American heritage is quite evident in the novel. Family traditions are not left behind in this short story. They are what inspired this story. It serves as a reminder of where one comes from, and the reality that it must never be overlooked. This is no matter where one goes, or what one is exposed to overtime. The short story makes up for a rather interesting piece of work.
Walker, A. Everyday Use. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. New York: McGraw Hill, 1998. Print.