Many college students have trouble connecting with older works presented to them in the classroom curriculum. An older story may have a strong theme or colorful meaning, but it may be difficult to understand and relate to modern society. For example, Alice Walkers’s “Everyday Use” tells a story of an African American woman living in the transition period between the modern society where everyone has a chance for education and a time when a person had to work hard for everything needed to live. Though “Everyday Use” is an arguably beneficial story for college students to learn from, many of its elements are difficult to understand in the new age. “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie is a superior story to “Everyday Use” for a college curriculum due to the more developed characters, a style which is easier to understand, and a theme which is more relevant to today's young adult society.
“Everyday Use” portrays a character, a “large-big boned woman with rough, man-working hands”, bound by a lack of education; “I never had an education myself. After second grade the school was closed down” (Walker, 418-9). Having noted this lack of opportunity, the everyday college student cannot fully understand this character. Today's society enables everyone a chance at education, regardless of living environment or family income. Not only is it difficult for a college student to understand how a person could function in the modern world without an education, he or she would have trouble connecting because the character does not reach out for new opportunities. Despite the new age of education in which her daughter Dee partakes, she still lives in the same rural environment, with the same handmade furniture, and the same rugged lifestyle. “This house is in a pasture, too, like the other one. No doubt when Dee sees it she will want to tear it down” (Walker, 419-423). When addressing the idea of heritage, she does not see a reason to embrace and preserve it. She would rather use antiquated items and replace them when they become worn and ragged. “'She can always make some more,' I said. 'Maggie knows how to quilt’” (Walker, 424). She is a stagnant character, continuing to live an outdated way of life in a modern world; whereas, today's college student is on a hunt for something more in life, a new passage of independence.
In order to convey the character’s lack of education, the story is written in short, choppy sentences such as, “It is three rooms, just like the one that burned, except the roof is tin; they don’t make shingle roofs anymore” (Walker, 419). This style of writing, though used to help the reader understand the character, is difficult for many college students to understand because they live in an age where being uneducated is not an option. The frequent pauses prevent the reader from developing an easy flow of information so that an entire idea can be formed from the information presented.
The overall idea expressed throughout the...