“ Everyday Use ” Alice Walker ’ s story “ Everyday Use ” presents Mama, a hard-working mother, who represents the African American struggle and culture in contrast to her educated daughter Dee, who misunderstands the concept of her real heritage and focuses rather on the material aspects. Dee ’ s response to the quilts that represent her African American history exemplifies her material ignorance. Heritage has always been particularly important for African Americans because the root of their pride came from ancestral blessings. Their ancestors passed down their spirit and their suffering through handmade objects they used daily. Through the characterization of Mama and Dee and the symbolism of the quilts, Walker demonstrates that heritage is not derived from academic knowledge, but rather comes from the daily, physical use of objects that epitomize family and cultural history. Mama is described as a “ large big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands ” (456). This physical description demonstrates that Mama has engaged in manual labor as it was part of the African American struggles. Mama was always “ better at a man ’ s job ” (457), able to “ kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man ” (456). Mama is independent and has acquired these skills through her ancestors. Mama has also “ raised the money, the church and [her] to send [Dee] to Augusta to school ” (457). This particular action demonstrates how Mama goes great lengths to provide the best to her children and emphasizes her appreciation of family. However, Mama never had an education herself as her school was closed down after the second grade (457).
Everyday Use Literary Analysis Essay
1306 WordsSep 26th, 20086 Pages
Mother vs. Daughter In the short story called “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker, the mother daughter conflict theme is portrayed throughout the whole story. The oldest daughter Dee constantly believes that she is better than the rest of the family causing a family feud about who gets the cherished quilt. Dee has always been on a pedestal over her family and she soon finds out that it is no longer the case. Once she finds this out conflict arises. The biggest conflict lies between Mama and Dee. This is clearly illustrated by Dee’s high standards, selfish behavior, and lack of knowledge about her family’s heritage. Dee sets impossible standards for her mother, causing Mama to feel inferior. Dee forces Mama to be the way Dee would…show more content…
In Dee’s eyes the pasture that her Mama lives in is not comparable to her fast pace high style world. This caused her to not even bring her friends over to their house (Walker 290). Her friends even put her on a pedestal, just like Mama. “They were nervous girls who never laughed. They were impressed with Dee they worshiped the well-turned phrase, the cute shape, and scalding humor that erupted like bubbles in lye” (Walker 290). This description of how Dee’s friends view her is told by Mama. This is another example of how Mama puts Dee on an unneeded pedestal. She describes her as some kind of God that her friends worship. In reality, it is Mama worshipping Dee. Dee’s selfishness is also portrayed by her cultured verbal skills. Dee can talk her way through anything. Dee often manipulates others with her verbal skills. This is shown when she reads to her mother and sister “without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice” (Walker 289). This statement further demonstrates the fact that Dee’s family feels inferior to her. Mama describes the situation as if Dee has some kind of power over her family because she is scholarly and her family is not. Dee uses her education to make Mama and Maggie feel less important without, necessarily meaning to. Critic, Nancy Tuten believes that Mama does not like the fact that Dee bosses her and Maggie around.