Alice Walker is a well known poet, novelist, essayist, educator, biographer, and editor and her quote “Black women can survive only by recovering the rich heritage of their ancestors,” best characterizes her works and life as a black women in this world.
Alice Malsenior Walker born February 8, 1944 in Eatonton, Ga. The youngest of eight children, her parents Willie Lee and Minnie Tallulah were sharecroppers and dairy farmers. From an early age she was introverted and quite shy, possibly a result of her temporary disfigurement and permanent blindness, a result of one of her brothers shooting her in the eye with a bb gun. She felt that she was ugly and unpleasant to look at so she retreated into solitude, reading poems and stories then writing.
Walker graduated from high school as valedictorian and prom queen, attended Spelman College after receiving a disability scholarship from the state of Georgia, then in 1963 transferred to Sarah Lawrence College where she graduated in 1965 with a B.A. She was involved with civil rights movement in Mississippi where she lived for seven years. During that time she also got married to a lawyer by the name of Meyvn Rosenman Leventhal and had her daughter Rebecca. In 1967 she wrote The Third Life of Grange Copeland while on fellowship at Macdowell Colony in New Hampshire. In 1973 she released a collection of short stories that dealt with the oppression, the insanities, the loyalties and triumphs of black women. Love and trouble won Walker the American Academy and Institutions of Arts and Letters Rosenthal award.
Between 1979 and 1982 she published several more works and it was her third novel published in 1982 that established her as a major American writer. Walker used the nineteenth century tradition of women writing confidential letters to comfort one another in the face of physical and psychological abuse. The “Color Purple,” remained on the New York Times bestsellers list for twenty-five weeks and claimed the American book award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In the late eighties and early nineties she published several books. She has been instrumental in bringing about awareness of female genital mutilation, through writing, film and lecturing around the world. (Yahoo.com.)
Also like the “Color Purple,” Alice Walker wrote the short story, “Everyday Use,” in 1973. The story deals with social realism and the attitude of a character called Dee that is the irony and focal point of Walker’s entire story. Dee can be seen to represent a materialistic, complex, and modern way of life where culture and heritage are to be valued only for their “trendy-ness,” and aesthetic appeal. Dee can also be portrayed as aggressive, greedy and self-serving, to the point of total lack of regard for her family. Although her family feels the force of Dee’s scorn, they admire her fierce pride, but clearly knows that she has not arrived at a stage of self-understanding.