This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Analysis Of Symbolism In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1763 words - 8 pages

Initially, Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” appears to be a prototypal narrative that merely details the relationship between three women. After close review, the narrative acquires added meaning through rich symbolism. Walker uses a plethora of clandestine symbolism to demonstrate the importance of heritage to African American culture. Walker cleverly utilizes ordinary items such as a quilt, in addition to the character’s physical qualities and indirect characterizations to demonstrate the contrasting attitudes towards heritage that are prevalent not only in the Johnson family, but in the black community as a whole.
Mama, the matriarch of the Johnson family, is introduced as she waits in the yard to receive her eldest daughter, Dee. She reveals that she has taken great measures to ensure the appearance of the yard that she describes as an “extended living room.” For Mama, outside represents freedom. [Walker] Also, since the home is traditionally considered female domain, it can be argued that she has rejected traditional female roles. Whereas a traditional woman would take painstaking measures arranging the inside of the home, Mama is “sensitive to every detail of the yard’s appearance.” [Walker] She even mentions that it is “swept as clean as a floor.” This idea is further supported by Mama’s direct characterization of herself as a “big boned woman” with “man working hands” as she describes the various activities in which she is skilled, all of which take place outside.[Walker] The argument between her daughters that eventually ensues takes place inside the house, thus further solidifying outside as a place of peace.
Maggie, Mama’s shy daughter, is glimpsed next. She is described as having scars from a previous fire which has subsequently made her shy. Mama admits in a precise, but loving manner that “like good looks and money, quickness passed by her,”which implies that Maggie is uneducated. [White] The scars that Maggie bears can be interpreted as a symbol for the many psychological scars of slavery. While Maggie is ashamed of her physical scars, generations of African Americans are shamed by the lasting vestiges of slavery. Maggie is characterized as a pitiful and uneducated character, which mirrors the pity that many misinformed African Americans feel about certain aspects of their history.
When Dee finally arrives, it is conspicuously evident that she is the antithesis of Maggie based on her erratic behavior and clothing. Not only is she dressed in foreign attire that is inappropriate for the climate, she also greets her mother in a foreign language. In addition to these absurdities, she snaps numerous Polaroid’s of her mother and the house. This condescending behavior serves to show that she feels she is merely a visitor to their lifestyle as well as more accomplished. Dee is accompanied by Hakim-a-barber whose relationship to her is ambiguous. Hakim-a-barber’s appearance is equally as strange to Mama. After he gives Mama a traditional...

Find Another Essay On Analysis of Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

The Usability of Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1621 words - 6 pages Mar 2014. Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Heritage of American Literature. Ed. James E. Miller. Vol. 2. Austin: Harcourt Brace Jovanivich, 1991. 714. Print. White, David. “ ‘Everdyday Use’ : Defining African-American Heritage.” Luminarium. Anniina Jokinen, 19 Sep 2002. Web. 17 Mar 2014. Write Work Editors. “ Symbolism in ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker.” WriteWork. N.p., May 2006. Web. 17 Mar 2014.

Point of View in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

561 words - 2 pages Point of View in "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker Point of view is described as the perspective from which a story is told (Literature, G25). In the story "Everyday Use" the point of view is that of first person narrator or major character. The story is told by the mother in the story. The theme of this story is that of a mother who is trying to cope with changing times and two daughters who are completely different. Having the story

Misfortunes of Dreams in Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

1281 words - 6 pages “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This famous excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech seems to echo the very sentiment of the narrator, whom we find out later is “Mama” and Mrs. Johnson, in the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. She alludes to her eldest daughter Dee and

“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

1422 words - 6 pages . Dee see quilts hanging on a wall, her mother sees her mother and her grandmother sewing pieces of cloth together; a cloth that represents their family. Alice Walker examines “Everyday Use” in various aspects. Walker sets up a contrast to reveal “an ironic challenge by the divine power of education that separated Dee from her family, but it has also separated Dee from a true sense of self” (SparkNotes). Dee’s education separated her from her

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

685 words - 3 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker In the story 'Everyday Use', by Alice Walker, the value of ones culture and heritage are defined as a part of life that should not be looked upon as history but as a living existence of the past. Walker writes of the conflict between two Black cultures. Dee and Maggie are sisters whom do not share the same ideals. Mama is torn between two children with different perspectives of what life truly means

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

938 words - 4 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker In "Everyday Use," Alice Walker stresses the importance of heritage. She employs various ways to reveal many aspects of heritage that are otherwise hard to be noticed. In the story, she introduces two sisters with almost opposite personalities and different views on heritage: Maggie and Dee. She uses the contrast between the two sisters to show how one should accept and preserve one's heritage. Beyond the

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

966 words - 4 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker Through contrasting family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the importance of understanding our present life in relation to the traditions of our own people and culture. Using careful descriptions and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors contribute to the values of one's heritage and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects or mere

Everyday Use, by Alice Walker

1415 words - 6 pages In the short story, Everyday Use, the author, Alice Walker, develops and transforms the attitude of the protagonist, Mama, adjusting the way she views her two daughters, Maggie and Dee. As one of the most significant characters in the story, Mama sets the perspective and point of view for the readers because of her important role as the narrator. The plot line of the story revolves around the return of Mama’s eldest daughter, Dee, as she is

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

967 words - 4 pages Myeisha WalkerEnglish 1102H. PapaganJune 24, 2014In "Everyday Use", Alice Walker tells the story of a mother and her two daughters' conflicting ideas about their identities and ancestry. She personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Mama, Dee, and Maggie, with each of them having different qualities and views on life. Mama is a simple, countrywoman who values her culture and heritage for its everyday use as

Everyday Use, by Alice Walker

1535 words - 6 pages Everyday Use, written by Alice Walker is a short story narrated from the eyes of the character Mama. The author uses cultural symbolism throughout her work to tell the tale of struggle between a mother and her two daughters. The tale unfolds at Mama’s house during the Civil rights movement in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when African Americans were struggling to define themselves and their heritage, the dialog shows conflicting views

Everyday Use by Alice Walker

722 words - 3 pages Everyday Use by Alice Walker In the short story Everyday Use, by Alice Walker, is narration by an African American woman in the South who is faced with the ultimate decision to whom she should give away the two quilts. Dee, her oldest daughter who is visiting from college, perceives the quilts as popular fashion and believes they should undoubtedly be given to her. Maggie, her youngest daughter, who still lives at home and understands the

Similar Essays

Symbolism In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1240 words - 5 pages In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker used symbolism throughout the story. Symbolism is an object that has a special meaning for person. For example, Puerto Rican flag have one star and the star represent one colonies of United State. It also has three stripes. The stripes represent when you United State freedom us from Spain. The Egyptians use symbols to communicate by writing. Symbols are use in math equations, shape and sets of numbers. In the

Symbolism In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1856 words - 7 pages butter churn is not to be used as art but in an everyday use. As stated in Alice Walker’s short Loya8 story “Everyday Use” “Didn’t Uncle Buddy Whittle it out of a tree you all used to have?” The fact that the butter churn goes all the way back. Means the butter churn has passed down by generation to generation. As stated in write work “Symbolism in ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker.” “The quilt represented in a major way the separation of

The Use Of Symbolism In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1879 words - 8 pages Eshbaugh, Ruth. “A Literary Analysis of Alice Walker’s Short Story ‘Everyday Use’.” Yahoo! Voices. Yahoo, Inc., 21 Aug 2008. Web. 17 Mar 2014. SparkNotes Editors. “Themes, Motifs, and Symbols.” Sparknotes. Sparknotes LLC. N. d., Web. 17 Mar 2014. Velazquez, Juan R. “Characterization and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’.” Lonestar. N.p.,n.d. Web.17 Mar 2014. Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Heritage of American Literature. Ed. James E

Symbolism In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1849 words - 7 pages this short story ‘Everyday Use’ Alice Walker uses symbolism for the objects that had been passed from the ancestors. The story “Everyday Use “by Alice Walker, is loaded with symbolism and heritage. It shows the symbolism and true heritage. It shows how objects have symbolism, but not just that, it shows the greatness and true meaning of heritage. In “Everyday Use” Wangero, a beautiful black women that always put down her friends and family goes