Symbolism In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

2096 words - 8 pages

There are many examples of symbolism in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use.” Whether it’s representing Mama Johnson, Dee or Maggie. Even everyday household objects. Symbolism is used to express or represent ideas or qualities in english, art, mathematics, science,etc. In many ways symbolism can be used to represent an idea that means more than the literal meaning.
In “Everyday Use” Mama Johnson and Maggie are awaiting for Dee’s arrival after several years of not being able to see her. Dee had left for college a while back and had wrote a letter saying she was coming to visit.
In the story the characters are described in their own certain way. Mama Johnson is a very hard working woman that has done everything that a man can could do. Dee is a very educated optimistic woman who has never liked living in the poor way her mother and her sister Maggie use to live. She is very stuck up and very presuming. She likes to make her mother and sister feel like their worthless compared to her. Maggie on the other hand is a very shy timid girl who has always lived with Mama Johnson, and is not used to having her mother stand up for her.
The conflict started when Dee was asking for house hold items that belonged to Mama Johnson, but there was one in particular that Dee wanted. Dee had her eye on the hand stitched quilts that had huge history behind them. When she asked mama if she could have the quilts mama said no because she

had promised Maggie she could have them when she got married. Dee hesitated in giving the quilts to Maggie so mama snatched them from her hand and placed them in Maggies arms.
Symbolism is used in various ways in Walkers “Everyday Use”. For example, the character Mama Johnson is described to be a true representation of heritage.
In an article titled “ Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’,” the author states “ When Mama gives Maggie the quilt it shows that Mama does understand the importance of heritage. It is better to use the quilts as a memory of the family rather than a piece of art hanging on the wall.” It shows that Mama Johnson thinks the quilt would be in better hands if she gave it to Maggie than she had given it to Dee.
Julie More states “Dee does not understand how her mother and Maggie can continue to live in such backwards way. By giving the quilt to Maggie, Mama shows that she understands the importance of her heritage.” Mama truly understands her heritage because she knows that her heritage isn't about having the objects her family has passed on to her, on the wall like if it was a piece of art. Mama Johnson is represented as a hardworking mother who has always worked in order to provide for her family. According to Nick Bmad “Mrs.


Johnson wears clothing that is practical for the kind of life she lives. Her overalls...

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