Title: In Blood And Heart Topic: Alice Walker's Short Story "Everyday Use" Thesis: [Alice Walker] Shows How Families Fight Ignorance, Face Change, Find Happiness, And Feel Love.

1084 words - 4 pages

In Blood and HeartAlice Walker's story "Everyday Use" is about families (310-315). Ms. Walker uses the Johnson family to show her readers what family means and how family members interact with one another. She shows how families fight ignorance, face change, find happiness, and feel love.Ms. Walker shows that ignorance is something every family must face. In "Everyday Use," Mama and Maggie lack knowledge of the world while Dee lacks understanding of her family. Dee read to her mother and sister of the outside world, "forcing words [...] upon us two" making them "ignorant underneath her voice" (312). Mama and Maggie did not need the knowledge of other places because they knew everything about the life they led; however, Dee was determined to make them learn. Dee's lack of understanding towards her family is demonstrated several times, particularly in the way she views items from the house. She wanted to take pieces of the butter churn to use as decoration (315). She wanted to take the hand-stitched quilts and hang them on the wall, rather than being "backward enough to put them to everyday use" (315). In life, knowledge and understanding go hand in hand for most people; likewise, the lack of knowledge leads to lack of understanding. Different life experiences change the ways people see the world. Dee went away to school; she learned things that Mama and Maggie did not learn in their town. Likewise, Mama and Maggie knew things about the town and their family that Dee did not know or did not remember. The quilts Dee wanted so desperately came from pieces of her grandparents' and great-grandparents' clothing; the quilt-tops were hand-stitched by her grandmother, and the quilts finished by Mama and Big Dee (315). Dee wanted the quilts simply because they were hand-stitched, not because they were heirlooms. She did not want other family quilts because they were "stitched [...] by machine" (315).Ms. Walker also shows that change is a part of life in a family, although family members see the changes differently. Change seems to be Dee's primary ambition, so that she forgets parts of herself; this loss affects how she sees herself as an adult. The contrast between Dee and her family is great. Mama and Maggie are relatively static; they do not see any reason to reinvent themselves as Dee does, and easily remember their family's history. Maggie remembers that her Uncle Henry made the dasher Dee wanted and that "they called him Stash" (315). Dee, the story's only dynamic character, only remembers the things she chooses to, while Mama and Maggie remember almost everything about the family. Dee even says that Maggie has a memory "like an elephant's" (315). Change is a necessary part of life; every day brings something new, and the littlest detail might be the one to alter the course of a person's life. Refusing to accept change will destroy a person, but it is reasonable for a person not to actively look for ways to change a life that is already enjoyable....

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2112 words - 8 pages African-American Women as Reflected in the Novels of Hurston and Walker.” Journal of Black Studies 20.2 (December 1989): 192-207. Hui, Fung-mei, Sandra. “Race and Gender in the Works of Maxine Hong Kingston, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.” Diss. U of Hong Kong, 2004. Walker Alice. In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. Florida: Harcourt, 1995. Washington, Mary Helen. “An Essay on Alice Walker.” Everyday Use. Ed. Christian, Barbara T. New Jersey: Rutgers U, 1994. 85-103. Weston, Ruth D. “Who Touches This Touches a Woman: The Naked Self in Alice Walker.” Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Dieke, Ikenna. London: Greenwood, 1999. 153-61.

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