Acceptance is one of the most basic yet elusive human rights. Surfacing as a recurring theme in many forms of media, from movies to literature, there is an echoing outcry of the desire to attain this fundamental need. Carefully constructed into a beautiful literary quilt, Alice Walker's, "Everyday Use" is an excellent example of the search for acceptance. Walker uses a definitive tone, deeply focused first-person point of view, and powerful imagery, to stitch together this family-heirloom-quality short story, highlighting the incomparable need for acceptance within the family circle and by extension, from the world as a whole.
As the story unfolds, the narrating mother is challenged to disdainfully tolerate her daughter Dee, who rebelliously renames herself Wangero. This is a daunting task because of Dee’s seemingly unreasonable and elitist attitude. Her other daughter, Maggie has endured surviving a heinous childhood experience, and yet still manages to exude a practical, loving selflessness, that at times causes her to acquiesce to her sibling’s will and wishes. With the mother’s reactions to the girls’ conflicting personalities, Walker makes the clear-cut tone easy to distinguish throughout the account.
Though she wishes things were different between Dee and herself, illustrated by her daydreams of having a happy reconciliation with her daughter in a “This Is Your Life” style reunion in which “Dee embrac[es] [her] with tears in her eyes”, and pins a beautiful orchid to her mother's dress; the eye-opening, true nature of their relationship quickly becomes exposed. The reader is rudely awakened by the fact that, despite her mother's apparent fondness for orchids, in real life, Dee is sure to let her mother know that “she thinks orchids are tacky” (456). More of the same condescending, disrespectful behavior closely follows, as the mother recounts several occasions on which Dee makes it abundantly clear that she holds her mother, Maggie, and all that is associated with their way of living in bitter derision. At one point the mother even feels like Dee “hate[s] Maggie” (457). That is, until despite the lack of having an education herself, Dee's mother, Maggie and their church raise money to send her away to school (457). Even so, there is still a time when the mother expresses having felt “trapped and ignorant underneath [Dee's] voice” when she called herself attempting to “educate” her and Maggie (457). In contrast, the mother generously showers her other daughter Maggie with a loyally warm and tenderly affectionate piety. Here it can be seen, that the powerful influence of tone gives a solid foundation and clear direction to the story's theme enabling the reader to easily comprehend the feeling behind its narration.
In terms of narration, Walker wisely chooses the mother to tell the story, as she is the most qualified to develop accurate descriptions and perceptions of the other two major characters in the story. This first-person point...