Family Heritage And Symbols In Everyday Use

One can find out about family heritage through formal instruction; in any case, genuine heritage is passed down from age through their narratives, pictures, and different collections that our families hold dear to their souls. In the short story, “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker she teaches us family heritage and symbols; what it is and who can receive it. Two hand sewed quilts turn into the focal point of conflict in the story.

They are also used to symbolize the family heritage. A quilt is made up of events, circumstances and influences that shape how one see and respond to the world. In the story, Mama, is the narrator who guides the reader through two different perspectives of her daughters. As the two sisters have diverse appearance and identities, they have alternate point of views on heritage. Walker uses quilts to symbolize the heritage and describes the two girls’ view on quilts to show their perspectives on heritage. Many may question how can two young women from the same rich inheritance of family, history and community be so different?

Initially, Dee’s point of view on family heritage is not the same as her sister. Whatever her family brings to the table is never enough. Dee is the older sibling, who has wandered from the world she experienced in her childhood, yet never felt a part. The story is set with regards to her returning home from college. Dee considers heritage as something that has an extrinsic value. She trusts that the best possible approach to acknowledge and protect her heritage is to not place it into her regular everyday use, but rather to appreciate it and use it as an accessory. Such a thought is uncovered when Dee says, “Maggie can’t value these quilts! She’d most likely be in reverse enough to put them to regular use.” When the mama asks Dee what she would do with the quilts, she says, “Hang them” (2378), which demonstrates that Dee thinks about the quilts just as tangible antiques. Moreover, the way Dee dress is different than her family. ” A dress down to the ground… yellows and oranges enough to throw back the light of the sun. Earrings gold, too… Bracelets dangling and making noises… ” Her hair, “stands straight up like the wool on a sheep,” (2379).

This is the manner by which Mama depicts her daughters’ new appearance. In spite of the fact that Mama does not dislike Dee’s new African style she is not comfortable with it. Dee had taken on the task to flash her African roots while she failed to understand the true meaning of her heritage. Dee tragically believes that one’s heritage is something that one puts on to show. Mama does not show African fashion. In any case she knows the genuine significance of her heritage; something that Dee does not appear to get it. Through Everyday use, Walker conveys that culture and heritage are taught from one generation to the next and it is not suddenly acquired and definitely it is not something that one suddenly puts on.

On the other hand, Maggie perspective on heritage is totally different than Deer’s. Maggie is the younger sister who never left home. The burning down of the house, her stuck-up sister, and society affects Maggie and makes her different from the other characters. Maggie was so damaged from her home torching that she turned into a timid and undervalued young girl. Maggie is for the most part saying “Uhnnnh” if anything at all through the story. Mom depicts Maggie as a young lady who “will stand pitifully… plain and embarrassed about the torch scars her arms and legs” from the fire, and who feels second rate compared to Dee (2379).

These burns and scars that Maggie has might be the reason of her absence of information just on the grounds that she was embarrassed to be in the learning environment. Moreover, the minute Maggie opens her mouth around her sister, it’s just as Dee was there just to make her life more hopeless, making unforgiving and scornful remarks at Maggie ‘s every word. “Maggie ‘s brain is like an elephant ‘s, Wangero said (2380). After rummaging through Maggie ‘s trunk, Dee insisted that her mother let her take the quilts that were put away. Mama told Dee that she was saving them to give to her sister after she married but Maggie said, “She can have them, Mama, I can ‘member Grandma Dee without the quilts” (2381). Family to Mama and Maggie is not just made up of tangibles. Maggie thinks of family heritage as an attachment to her ancestors. She believes the everyday use of the inherited materials, how much ever value they may retain, will keep her connected to her ancestors. She values the attachment to the ancestors more than the inherited material itself.

Walker compares Maggie with her sister, Dee, to show how society slanders African-American women as well as women in the 1970s. From the beginning of the story, Maggie is depicted as anxious, miserably remaining in the corner. Later she is portrayed as almost hidden from view. On a metaphorical level, Maggie is the image of the absence of power held in the 1970s for women. She is the exemplification of the quiet women. In contrast, Dee is confident, she will look at you without flinching. She fills in as an image of the free, effective present-day women. Her confidence may put on a show of being arrogant, and an excess of pride. By differentiating Maggie and Dee, Walker is communicating the two sides of the women role during that time.

All in all, Walker gives the reader the strong impression that Mama has a special partiality for her oldest daughter Dee, and a sentiment of disgrace for her youngest daughter, Maggie. As the story is being told, and eventually comes to its closing, Walker drastically changes the attitude of Mama toward both of her daughters, finally treating each girl as they truly deserve. Walkerr’s character Mama gives the readers insight to the thoughts and feelings of a traditional African-American mother of the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. She has seen her two little girls transform into two altogether different women as they grew up from their childhood. Mama situation in the story is that of a solid parental figure, who has the responsibility of both mother and father for her family.

Marriage In Everyday Use Story

A short story about a mother and daughter who went through rough time and a father and son who has a strange relationship. You will see how these two stories have in common and how they are different.

Marriage today is different (Pg. 3, paragraph 1) said Nnaemeka while talking to his father about how found the women of his life and want to marry her. As his father is not please due to the fact his son choose some one out of there village Ugoyer’s or someone he did not arrange for him Look here, my son nothing is different what one looks for in a wife are a good character and a Christian background. (page 3, paragraph 2). By making a point you the father wants what is best for his son, but his son wants best for him and not to be told what to do or who he can marry to. She is a good Christian, and a teacher in a girls school in Lagos (page 3, paragraph 6) said Nnaemeka but the father wasnt please to such thing he heard his son say because to him a wife shouldnt be a teacher nor do anything but be a stay home wife and do what wife do at home his replay to his son was If you consider that a qualification for a good wife I should like to point out to you, that no Christian woman should teach. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians says that women should keep silence (page 3, paragraph 7).

Nnaemeka tried to talk to his father on being able to be a man of his own but nothing worked for him in the mind of an old man lays his bitterness and stubborn tradition ways. But he went on to marrying his beautiful wife Nene who has been behind her husband no matter what Nnaemeka father said bash his son and letting him know he no longer is welcome back home to visit and that he disowned him. Until one day Nene wrote a letter to Nnemeka father Our two sons, from the day they learnt that they have a grandfather, have insisted on being taken to him. I find it impossible to tell them that you will not see them. I implore you to allow Nnaemeka to bring them home for a short time during his leave next month. I shall remain here in Lagos (pg. 5, paragraph 9). When the father receives the letter, he started thinking how all this time he dis credited his son just because he didnt go with tradition and now he has two grand kids he cant disowned because they dont have no part to this and from there he started to regret his action and ways and wants to be part of his grands kids life.

She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand (pg. 2, paragraph 2). Here is a mother talking about her daughter Dee and how she uses to act when she was sixteen as if the mother did a bad job. Showing off her way of styles and how she dressed until one day the mother sent her to school as she returned as a grown woman and maybe seeing a man of sort.

Dee and her mother relationship isnt like any relationship its like a friendship that has been broken and they havent seen each other for years as Dee try to let her mother know that he new name is what she go by Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo which he mother thought that was a weird name telling her “You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie,” I said. Dicie is my sister. She named Dee. We called her “Big Dee” after Dee was born (pg. 3 paragraph 6). As her mother let her know her roots and how her name got here but Dee wasnt having by telling her mother Dee is dead “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me” (pg. 3, paragraph 5).

As she introduces her friend or man Asalamalakim or Hakim-a-barber which the mom thought his name was way too long to say and was going to ask why he has a barber does he cut hair, but she left hat alone as she sees the two admiring the house and the cattler’s thatr’s was roaming around the yard. You can say that she out grown from who she was to what she has become. At the end the mother and daughter grew a new relationship as she sees how the mother mad a quilt that tells the history of the family.

In conclusion, both stories have one thing in common which is family now matter how tough things get between father and son or mother and daughter family will always stay family.

Main Ideas In Everyday Use Novel


  • 1 Everyday Use; Story Analysis
  • 2 Works Cited

Everyday Use; Story Analysis

Legacy is a fundamental principle to human life. The spigot enables individuals to interface and relate. For people to proceed to relate and advance legacy needs to develop too. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is the tale of two sisters, one taught voyager and one basic shut-in. Through a basic clash, so much is uncovered about how the two sisters live their lives and what is of incentive to them.

This story, albeit short, conveys a major message about a legacy in a developing world. Legacy taking care of business can’t be stopping or only something of the past, yet rather it should always change and create as time unfurls. The story is described by their mom, relates a cumbersome gathering of two sisters, Maggie and Dee. Maggie has dependably been a less difficult young lady who wanted to remain at home with their mom, Mama, in Augusta, Georgia. Be that as it may, Dee was sent to class, ventured to the far corners of the planet, and picked upped progress. Dee’s landing is premeditated by a quality of uneasiness as neither Maggie nor Mama comprehend what weird traditions Dee may have gotten. As the time gravitates toward a vehicle methodologies and Dee rises with an outside beau. Maggie is cumbersome and chilly to the new visitor, and Mama is tired. Dee reports that she has changed her name to “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” because she wouldn’t like to be named after the general population who persecuted the African Americans, so she gave herself a conventional African name to respect her underlying foundations (for contentions purpose she will in any case be alluded to as Dee).

Deer’s arrival is met with considerably more uneasiness as she treats Maggie like a dolt. She at that point requests that Mama bring home family relics that are as yet used by the ladies in their everyday lives, for example, an old spread agitate. As Dee keeps on guaranteeing rights to these old household things, feeling that she can appropriately welcome them, she runs over some family effects that lead the story to its contention about the significance and present-day estimation of legacy. Dee experiences Mama’s trunk and rises with quilts woven with the ancestral garments including their Grandma Dee’s dresses and their extraordinary granddads common war uniform. Dee says that she will remove the blankets from their hands with the goal that she can gladly hang and show them at her home. This does not go over well as these blankets were at that point guaranteed to Maggie. Dee rebukes this by expressing that Maggie will use them as though they are only a typical, unsentimental thing and will destroy such valuable treasures. The story closes with Dee putting down both Mama and Maggie saying they don’t comprehend their own legacy and that Maggie needs to isolate herself from the family ranch and make a big deal about her life as she drives off (Walker 1531-1537).

Everyday Use raises numerous focuses that can be connected to society. The story contains numerous exercises to be learned in a legacy, custom, and roots. Dee has a restricting supposition to Mama and Maggie. Dee considers legacy to be something that will be shown and respected however ought to be left before. Her mom and Maggie see no mischief in proceeding to live the manner in which their predecessors dependably have. They imagine that by doing this current one’s legacy is being regarded and legitimately kept up. With the end goal to genuinely acknowledge a legacy, it is vital that it is proceeded as a lifestyle, nonetheless, this does not imply that it can’t change, and individuals must be solidified before. It is certain that Dee has proceeded onward from the straightforward lifestyle of her mom and sister, and in doing as such she has distanced herself from her family and in addition her underlying foundations. She, be that as it may, doesn’t appear to see as despite everything she needs to show still-useful antiques of her skin around her very own house.

This is confirming in the piece of the story where Dee sees the margarine beat not for a stir, but rather for a protest of improvement: I can use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table, she said, sliding a plate over the churn, ?and Ill think of something artistic to do with the dasher. (Walker 1535) As if this wasnt enough of a denounced of her practical heritage, she again proves this point during the quilt tantrum between her and her mother. It is obvious that Dee has detached herself from her past, and she has embraced a more global outlook on life. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing as people need to be continually evolving to survive. Joe Sarinowski points out the merit behind Deer’s side and compliments her on her innovation of thought (270).

Even though Deer’s opposing view to her sister and mother make her seem like she doesnt understand where they are coming from, and why their way of life is so valuable to them, she values her heritage and embodies a new modern view. She promotes a new way for African Americans. The other extraordinary of legacy safeguarding found in the story is Maggie and Mamas’ view, that the predictable usage and routine in regard to one’s legacy as it generally has been willing keep it in politeness the best. In spite of the fact that the characters are living in the twentieth Century, Maggie and Mama appear to be stuck in the Civil War period. Dee calls attention to the blunder of their routes toward the finish of the story when she discloses to her sister, You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. Itr’s really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live youd never know it. (Walker, 1536)

This sort of social protection is excessively outrageous and doesn’t take into account individuals to improve past the point they are trapped. In any case, similarly as Dee’s outrageous perspective of legacy had some legitimacy, so does Maggie and Mama’s. They are genuinely using their past further bolstering their advantage. The opposite side of the blanket occurrence, indeed, calls attention to the advantages behind their view with Mama’s pleasure in Maggie’s planned use of the blankets when Mama says I reckon she would, I said. ?God knows I been saving ?me for long enough with nobody using ?me. I hope she will! (Walker 1536).

Inside these contradicting thoughts of legacy one can endeavor to choose which is correct, yet the appropriate response is more mind boggling. It effortlessly can be said that parts of the two convictions consolidated make reality of legacy. Culture can best be safeguarded by a mix of the limits we see in “Everyday Use”. With the end goal to protect legacy taking care of business Dee’s component of modernization needs to meet Maggie’s component of usage. Dee’s conviction of social legacy is fixated on acclimating to a cutting edge world and Maggie’s conviction is focused on safeguarding the manner in which she lives and not modifying anything. The center ground, where culture can be acknowledged for what occurred and proceeded as a lifestyle yet adjusted to fit a changing, present day world. An author who additionally contends this conviction is Federico Lenzerini: regarding the way that culture is a living and variable element, one given social sign can speak to a culture through the progression of time just if such appearance is able to do constantly changing itself in parallel to the changes describing the social entire of which it is a section (102).

An essential part to the continuation of mankind is versatility. On the off chance that culture can’t adjust, neither can individuals. An essential image in the story that further accentuates this point is the butter churn. Dee sees the butter churn as an old relic that could be utilized as a craftsmanship piece. Though Mama still observes the butter churn for its utilization for making butter, making note of the hand denotes that have been engraved in the handle following quite a while of usage. Durham composes, Symbolic products also possess a certain concreteness. But if they are not used, the work that brought them into being is in a sense dead (Durham 75), to clarify that the utilization of social items is basic to the continuation of legacy. In the event that the butter churn is an image, it isn’t only a relic that symbolizes a past people; it is a protest that is as yet utilized by Mama and by utilizing the butter churn they are, as it were, safeguarding a bit of their way of life. “Everyday Use” is the tale of two sisters that have become separated physically, emotionally, and mentally. Dee has ventured to the far corners of the planet and has proceeded onward from the manner in which she was raised while Maggie remained home and proceeded with the correct lifestyle that she was brought up in., in particular so because her mom has never moved far from the conventional existence of her precursors.

The two different ways of life found in this story both epitomize the boundaries in which one can grasp their legacy. Individuals don’t need to experience each day in and out rehashing conventions of the past to keep up their underlying foundations, however there is something else entirely to living inside one’s legacy than acknowledging relics of the past. Legacy must be something beyond an important enrichment, for that embellishment would simply be an image of the individuals who encountered their legacy amid life. Dee’s side of aggregate globalization that leaves legacy in the past to modernize and grow must meet Maggie and Mama’s side of legacy utility and redundancy.

Works Cited

  1. Durham, Eunice Ribeiro. “Reflections on Culture, Heritage and Preservation.” Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology, vol. 10, 28 Apr. 2015, pp. 75-77. eLibrary.
  2. Lenzerini, Federico. “Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Living Culture of Peoples.” European Journal of International Law, Apr. 2015, pp. 101-20. eLibrary.
  3. Sarnowski, Joe. “Destroying to Save: Idealism and Pragmatism in Alice Walkerr’s Everyday Use.’” Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 48, Aug. 2012, pp. 269-86. eLibrary.
  4. Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” The Norton Anthology American Literature, vol. 2, 2013, pp. 1531-37.

An Issue Of Culture In Everyday Use

In the story Everyday Use by Alice Walker, we hear a story from the viewpoint of the mother which is referred as mama in the story who is an African American woman who received a visit from her daughter Dee. Mama along with her other daughter Maggie, who still live poor in the Deep South while Dee has moved onto a more successful life. Mama and Maggie has embraced their roots and heritage, whereas Dee on the other hand wants to get as far away from the heritage and tradition as possible.

During her return back home, Dee attention is drawn to a quilt. It is this quilt and the title of the piece that centers on the concept of what it means to integrate oner’s culture into their everyday life.

To begin with a quilt is defined as a coverlet made of scrapes and fragments stitched together to forming a pattern (Webster). The quilt in the story was made by Grandma Dee, Big Dee, and Mama whor’s love and heritage was poured into this quilt, but made from scraps of dresses and shirts and part of Grandpar’s Civil War uniform. The quilt is filled with memories and was hand stitched by the family which is part of the tradition of the family. Mama suggests that Dee take other ones, but Dee rejects the offer because they were stitched by machine (Walker, p.114) and the old ones were done by hand. Mama says that she had promised them to Maggie. Dee then replies that Maggie would be backward enough to put them to everyday use (Walker, p.114). Mama says she hope Maggie will use them every day. This begins what is means to use and misuse heritage of a family or even a tradition.

Mama is really looking forward to Maggie using the quilt as a practical everyday item. She sees the quilts for their functional use that the quilt was made to use in everyday life. Meanwhile, Dee finds this thought to be absurd tot eh way of thinking. Dee thinks they are too valuable and priceless to be using as everyday necessities. Instead she believes that she should hang them. These two ideas of how to use the quilts are in complete contrast of one another and how the heritage could ben used. Mama finds them practical, Dee finds them fashionable. The way in which each woman wants to use the quilt is in accordance with their characters.

Alice Walkerr’s use of characterization plays a big part in how these two women feel about the quilt. Mama is a strong, traditional African American woman, whereas Dee finds herself aboard the Civil Rights Movement. In an article entitled Personal Names and Heritage: Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use, the author uses Clara and Inger Juncker comment from their book Black Roses in describing Deer’s African American stance: Dee has joined the movement of the Cultural Nationalism, whose major spokesman was the black writer LeRoi Jones (Imamu Baraka).

Walker exemplifies this entire concept in the character of Dee. She is described as always being fashionable and when she appears at the house, she is wearing a long dress of bright colors, adorned with bracelets, and a current fad in hairstyle. Even prior to her arrival, we learned that Dee has always been different. She has never wanted to stay at home and embrace her familyr’s hard work. Instead she was always determined to get as far away from her home roots as possible. Yet here we have Dee coming back to claim her heritage roots so she can admire them on a wall as art. Dee also does this with the churn top and dasher. She plans on using them as centerpieces for a table. Again she is using everyday items as art.

This then challenges how one integrates culture into their life. It is obvious that Mama and Maggie use the items around their house as practical, every day, useful items. While as Dee only wants to use the same items to show off her heritage. The title of this piece suggests that one could find both the uses of art and practicality in items. Depending on how one feels about the item, it would seem it dictates its use; like Dee wants to embrace her heritage, but not her roots whereas Mama and Maggie can embrace their heritage regardless of the items. Therefore, they use them practically but appreciate where they came from.

Symbolism And Character Development In Everyday Use

In summary, everyday use is a short story told from Mamar’s point of view, she is described as a “big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (Walker, P. 1126). At the very start of the story, Mama awaits for the return visit of Dee, her eldest daughter.

Mama and her younger daughter, Maggie, stands next to each other as they both hesitantly awaits the arrival of Dee. As they are waiting, the audience receives a taste of Mama’s life and her relationship with Dee. Apart from Mama and Maggie, we learn that Dee have always desired more than her family history or Mama could offer her. Dee is educated and is clearly intelligent and driven, we get the sense that her achievements have come at the cost of her mother and her younger sibling.

When Dee finally showed up at the scene, she was accompanied by a young man named Hakim-a-barber, whom Mama refers to as “Asalamalakim”. As soon as Dee showed up, it was clear that she was not the same person she is now then when she left, starting with the fact that she insisted on being called, Wangero rather than her original name, Dee. Both Dee and her boyfriend are more focused on getting artifacts than truly connecting and engaging with Mama and Maggie. They searched through Mamar’s belongings in hope of finding original pieces of old rural black life (history), a life and history that Dee has long ago divorced herself from. Dee continuously shoots insults at Mama and Maggie, indirect as casual chit-chat, directed at Mama and her sister. Dee demands on obtaining old quilts that are put away for Maggie. After Mamar’s endurance of Deer’s inappropriate insults, mama informs “Wangero” to take two other quilts not intended for Maggie and depart. Dee advices Maggie to make something of herself and mockingly direct at her Mama that she contains no understanding of her own heritage. Next, Dee and Hakim-a-barber got into their car and depart.


  • 1 Analysis:
  • 2 Culture:
  • 3 Heritage
  • 4 Tradition
  • 5 Conclusion


In Everyday Use, Walker uses the possessions found in Mamar’s home that represent culture, heritage and tradition. Dee arrives to visit her mother and at her arrival, she saw her motherr’s house as a symbol of her childhood and background. Dee begins to notice her surroundings. The first thing she paid attention to was the benches. As she takes time to the admiration of the benches, Dee says, You can feel the rump prints (Walker 112). This scene from the story clearly conveys to the audience that the author intentionally put that sentence to tell the readers that the benches hold a history. In other words, the benches have been in home for many years. Therefore, the benches stand as a representation of the characters past and experiences. There are many symbols to consider, but another symbol that the author utilize is the butter churn and dash. When talking about these items, the author tells, there were a lot of small sinks; you could see where thumbs and fingers had sunk into the wood (Walker, P.112).

The author is trying to sending a message the audience that there is history behind the butter dash. Some of the characters good and bad past experiences are contained within the butter dash. The butter dash may be an everyday use item; however, some good and bad experiences that have taken place in our everyday life around the table took place in the present of the butter dash (if the household possesses one). With all this being said, it means that every time you would trough a stare at the butter dash, the remembrance of these experience are in a way, relieved. The author proceeds on describing the butter dash by saying that it was made of beautiful light yellow wood, from a tree that grew in the yard where Big Dee and Stash had lived (Walker, P.112).

The description of the butter dash represent the history. The fact that the author included the remembering of the history tells the audience that the author puts values heritage. With these items, the author tells the audience of their history. This shows the authorr’s gratitude of knowing the history behind things. The author is clearly concerned about the sensitive artifacts of the African American past. By writing the story everyday use, the author clearly demonstrate that she recognizes the need to preserve the fragile artifacts of the African American past. In other words, the appreciation of the benches and the butter churn are items that represent African American traditions. Walker strongly believe that there is a need to explain the significance of concerning the African American culture and heritage and the author used these everyday items to symbolize that importance.


The items such as the benches, the butter dash and the quilts obviously signify African American culture and heritage. Among the other everyday items, the quilts are the most important symbol that the author utilize in the story Everyday Use. When Dee carried the quilts out, the author digs into thorough details about the meaning behind these quilts. The author says, in both of [the quilts] were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrellr’s Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezrar’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War (Walker, P.113).

The quilts symbolizes the complete past of the family that dates back to the time of the Civil War. The quilts hold great importance to the culture, and not only representation of the past. They also symbolize the hard work of the family members. The African American quilts are clear symbols representing the African American tradition. According to African American history of the quilts, the purpose of the quilts was a productive way for the African American slave women to pass time, and finally, the quilts were used and needed as a necessity to keep slaves warm during the winter time. Even though some people, for instance Dee, view the quilts as something that should be used as a mean of beautification. On the other hand, the author does view the quilts the same way. Walker believes that The quilts represents history and tradition. In other words, the author uses these quilts to symbolize the appreciation and respect of African American culture. According to Houston A. Baker, Jr., and Charlotte Pierce-Baker, the quilts, in their patched and many-colored glory offer not a counter to tradition, but, in fact, an instance of the only legitimate tradition of ?the people that exists (311). In other words, the quilts in Everyday Use are one of the only symbols that represent traditions during that time era. In Everyday Use, the quilts are the most significant part making up the story, and the author uses the quilts to show the traditions of African-American heritage.


The author portray the appreciation she contain towards preserving and respecting the African American culture and heritage through the development of the characters. The she story contains three main characters. Mama is one of the main characters that shows the most transformation in character. In the story, Mama starts off by discussing her daughters. She clearly see Dee as the lovelier and more intelligent daughter. She seems to think highly of Dee. She says, [Maggie] thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that ?no is a word the world never learned to say to her (Walker, P.109). Mama says this because she recognizes that Dee always gets everything she desires, and no one ever denies her anything, including Mama. Mama knows that Dee has unusual ways that does not resemble the ways of Mama or Maggier’s, but in some ways Mama seems to look up to Dee and longs for Dee to accept her. Tuten agrees by saying, Mamar’s distaste for Deer’s egotism is tempered by her desire to be respected by her daughter (Walker, P.125).

The character of Mama changes during the quilt scene as she come to realize that Maggie shares the appreciation of culture and heritage, and Deer’s appreciation is entirely different from theirs. In the action of the quilt scene, Dee is basically demanding Mama to give her the quilts, and Mama says, when I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet (Walker, P. 113). In other words, the truth hits Mama quicker than lightning. The truth is that the Dee is the daughter that does not know or understands the true appreciation of African American culture. Tuten says the story is ultimately about Mamar’s awakening to one daughterr’s superficiality and to the otherr’s deep-seated understanding of heritage (Walker, P.125). In Everyday Use, the author uses Mamar’s change in how she views her daughters to help defend her point, which is the importance of keeping the values and traditions in the African American culture.


Mama expresses herself as a big boned woman with rough, man-working hand. She references conditions that were useful and necessary to survive for her ancestors. She can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man and can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing (Walker, P.115). So she is able to survive with the help of these methods that were passed on by her family from generation to generation. She has the ability to actually use these abilities and thus be independent.

Mama is a tough and relaxed individual. When Dee badly show that she wants the quilts her grandmother made, Mama team with her daughter Maggie: I did something I never had done before: hugged Maggie to me, then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangeror’s hands and dumped them into Maggies lap(Walker, P.117). Mama does not want to surrender the quilts to Dee, she wants Maggie to have the quilts for everyday Mama portrays a mighty character who recognizes the value of her culture and fights for it.

It obviously clear how very different Dee is from her family. One of the things that makes it so obvious ifs the fact that she is an educated woman and her family holds no educational background. Dee went to Augusta school. While Dee is educated, it come at a cost for her family because she uses her knowledge to present her dominance to her family at her return. The author uses expressive oppositions: she washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge(Walker, P. 117), and the author goes on with words like pressed and shove to show Deer’s not so attractive attitude. She is determined to gain knowledge and be different from her ancestors. She uses her reading ability like a weapon to show her family how well educated she is and how small they are in their illiteracy.


In conclusion, Alice Walker utilizes symbolism and character development to express her personal emotions of culture and heritage, which is the extreme importance of maintaining and respecting the strong value of family and traditions. The symbols of the benches, the butter dash, and the quilts help represent the history of African American traditions. The character development of Mama, Dee, and Maggie help to show the different points of views that one may have about heritage, and Mamar’s fundamental eye opener of discovering which daughter values the same things as her in the same way. The change in Mama permits her to stand up to a daughter in a way that she has not before. The setting of the yard aids in telling the story behind the culture and heritage. Walker defends her perception on the extreme importance of protecting and admiring the value of African American culture and heritage.

Main Theme In Everyday Use Novel

Alice Walker brings a repetitive topic in her work: the portrayal of concordance and in addition the contentions and battles inside African-American culture. “Everyday Use” centers around an experience within individuals from the rustic Johnson family. This encounter which happens when Dee and her boyfriend come back to visit Dee’s mom and more youthful sister Maggieis basically an experience between two distinct translations to deal with, African American culture.

Narrator utilizes portrayal and imagery to feature the contrast between these translations and at last to maintain one of them, demonstrating that culture and legacy are parts of everyday life.

Begining of the story is to a great extent engaged with describing Mrs. Johnson, Dee’s mom and the story’s storyteller. All the more particularly, Mrs. Johnson’s dialect focuses to a specific connection amongst herself and the physical environment, she sits tight for Dee “in the yard that Maggie and I made so spotless and wavy” . The yard, indeed, is “not only a yard. It resembles a broadened family place, as well as favorite place of her life. Her portrayal of herself in like manner demonstrates a recognition and solace with her environment and with herself: she is “a vast, enormous boned lady with unpleasant, man-working hands” at the end of the day, she knows the truth of her body and acknowledges it, notwithstanding discovering solace (both physical and mental) in the way that her “fat keeps [her] sweltering in zero climate” . Mrs. Johnson is generally at home with herself; she acknowledges her identity, and consequently, Walker suggests, where she remains in connection to her way of life.

Mrs. Johnson’s girl Maggie is depicted as rather ugly and unattractive: the scars she bears on her body have in like manner scarred her spirit, and, subsequently, she is resigning, even unnerved. Mrs. Johnson concedes, in a cherishing way, that “like great looks and cash, speed cruised her by” .She “lurches” as she peruses, however plainly Mrs. Johnson thinks about her as a sweet individual, a little girl with whom she can sing melodies at chapel. In particular, in any case, Maggie is, similar to her mom, at home in her conventions, and she respects the memory of her progenitors; for instance, she is the girl in the family who has figured out how to knit from her grandma.

The Narrators characters shows, and also their physical aspects, shows their connection to their way of life. Mrs. Johnson, as explained, has “man-working hands” and can “kill a hoard as cruelly as a man”; obviously this detail is intended to demonstrate an unpleasant life, with extraordinary presentation to work. Symbolic importance can likewise be found in Maggie’s skin, her scars are actually the engravings upon her body of the heartless voyage of life. Most clearly and in particular the blankets that Mrs. Johnson has guaranteed to give Maggie when she weds are exceedingly representing, speaking to the Johnsons’ Rituals. These Quilts were followed by Grandma Dee and after that Big Dee. These figures in family history who were dissimilar to the present Dee, assumed responsibility in instructing their way of life and legacy to their generation. The bedcovers themselves shoes/represents history, of pieces of dresses, shirts, and regalia, every one of which speaks to those individuals who fashioned the family’s way of life, its legacy, and its qualities.

Most importantly, these pieces of the past are not just portrayals in actual; they are not removed from day by day life. This, basically, is the essential issue of “Regular Use”: that the development and support of its legacy are important to every social gathering’s self-ID, however that additionally this procedure, so as to succeed, to be original, must be a piece of family individuals’ utilization consistently.

Depiction Of Mama In Everyday Use Movie

Nowadays, the younger generation seems to drift away from their roots and there is a story of Alice Walker named Everyday Use portraying a picture of this phenomenon. The story then was adapted to the same name movie following the plot and keeping the same characters. Although both the story and movie represent that Mama wants to keep the items from their familyr’s past and give it to someone who would appreciate the familyr’s heritage, I prefer to watch the movie because it is more authentic and has more sense of progression.

In the story, Mama is stronger as she is a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands. She can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man. Moreover, when mentioning about Dee, Mama already has animosity towards her. Although she likes the different qualities Dee possesses, she is sometimes threatened because those qualities are unfamiliar to her. She seems to resent the education as well as the air of superiority of Dee over the years She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didnt necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand.. She clearly understands that Maggie is destined to live a life which is similar to her while Dee lives in a world which she would never know a world making Dee depreciate her. Therefore, the story is on the track of playing out that animosity as Dee finally puts her too far.

In the movie, however, Mama appears to be gentler. There is a scene showing her embracing Deer’s picture, which really touches viewers and offers them a glimpse of a motherr’s unconditional love towards her daughter. Moreover, instead of harshly describing the limitation of Maggie as in the story, she shows more love towards her shy daughter. She looks at Maggie affectionately because she knows what has happened to her little daughter. Moreover, because of her unconditional love, she has some illusions about Dee. She is delighted when Dee promised to come home after years, and she is first confusing and disappointed as well as irritated by Deer’s superior attitude towards her and Maggie.

Especially, the discussion between Dee and Mama when the former announces she has changed her name to Wangero becomes more comedic and sounds more ironic. At that time, the way Mama looks at Dee changes as if she does not know whether the girl in front of her is her beloved Dee or not. During the meal, she kind of protects Maggie and sees that Maggie has accepted the injustices of the world. In Maggie, she seems to see herself. She gradually realizes the separation which exists between Dee and the family when Dee acts strangely and superiorly during the meal. She learns something that she has never known about her daughter, and her realization of that knowledge drives the plot. Thanks to watching the video, readers can have a clearer picture of what the author wants to say because the quality of the movie is high, the setting is authentic, and the acting is good. Furthermore, the movie gradually and quietly describes many of Walkerr’s important details about costumes and setting through painfully bright dress and the sunglasses of Dee, the peaceful swept yard in front of the house, and the worn handle on the butter churn.

In conclusion, although both the story and the film all have high quality and focus on the importance of maintaining oner’s heritage as well as challenge people to appreciate their own roots, the movie is easier to understand and has a little more sense of progression than in the story as it helps viewers picture the plot and to understand the personality of each character.

Black Power Movement In Everyday Use Novel

The Black Power Movement was a time of change and Everyday Use is proof of that. During the 70s African Americans were going through a dramatic change, a change that would alter the very way they lived their lives. From the moment Dee arrived you could tell change was in the air, the difference between Deer’s new lifestyle compared the old ways her mother and sister still live.

She had brought home a man by the name of Hakim-a-barber who appeared to be well educated and financially well off. By 1973 blacks had made substantial gains in employment and income. In addition, they benefited from a growth of opportunities for education and job training (Black Americans). This is shown when Dee shows up with an expensive car and a vibrant color dress (467).

Education played a major part in the Black Power Movement. The narrator mentions she never had much of an education herself, and after second grade the school she was attending shut down for an unknown reason (466). In 1972 about 65 percent of all blacks in their twenties were high school graduates, compared with only 54 per cent in 1967. There were 727,000 blacks attending college in 1972, nearly double the 1967 figure (Black Americans). Education became more open to the black community as the years passed.

Dee has altered her whole life since leaving home for five years and has now changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo as sign of respect to her true heritage. According to Dee the reason she changed her name is because she could not bear it any longer being named after the people that suppressed her (468). Some Black Americans decided to liberate their identity by intentionally misspelling a given name so that their name would be theirs alone and would never have been used by a slave owner”e.g., Dawne. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s and 70s strengthened the sense of Black pride and identity. American Blacks began to discover more about their Heritage (Psychology Today).

The past is important for the future, things left behind by our deceased relatives can have significant meaning or hold great value, Wangero did not see items left behind by family as memories but as pieces of art that needed to be preserved. An example of this is the churn top their Uncle Buddy whittled out a tree they used to have, instead of seeing the object as family related she saw it fit to be a centerpiece for the alcove table (469).

Wangero sought to keep the two quilts she discovered and asked her mother if she could have them as well as the churn top. These two quilts showed significant meaning one was the Lone Star pattern, the other Walk Around the Mountain, both of which had bits and pieces of family history stitched within them. Wangero has an argument with her momma about keeping the quilts but momma already promised them to Maggie her younger sister, she is angered and says Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts they are not made for everyday use they are meant to be hung. In the end momma took the quilts away from her and handed them too Maggie, she yelled at momma saying you just dont understand your heritage and exclaims you ought to try to make something of yourself too Maggie, it’s really a new day for us (471).

Significant Symbols In Everyday Use

Symbols are marks used to represent an object or function. The symbols in the story are practical for Mama and Maggie and representative for Dee. Mama and Maggie both create and use everyday their familyr’s heritage, but Dee only wants praise and credit for what her family has created. Alice Walker uses symbols to depict Maggie and Mama as practical souls and Dee as a romantic soul.

In Everyday Use, the churn is a symbol of heritage for Dee, while it is still practical and used everyday by mama and Maggie. Dee feels the need to display her heritage rather than use it practically like Mama and Maggie. When Dee arrived and they sat down to eat dinner, she noticed the churn in the corner of the room. She excitedly jumped up and said that she knew there was something she wanted to ask for. This churn top is what I need, she said (56). She went on to tell them that she could use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table(56). Dee wanting the churn top for decoration indicates that she is more interested in showing off what her family has done, rather than the fact that it is a tool used everyday by Mama and Maggie.

Another symbol Walker uses is the bench. The bench also symbolizes heritage for Dee. Mama says that although Hakim- a- barber did not eat the food because it was unclean, Dee was delighted by everything, even the fact that we still used the benches her daddy made (55). Dee cried, i never knew how lovely these benches are(55). When Dee sees the bench, she sees old and poor, because these were built when they could not afford chairs for the table. Although Dee appreciates the bench her dad built for its age, Mama and Maggie appreciate it because it is where they sit to eat dinner. It still has a practical purpose for them, Maggie just likes it because it is old and a part of her family history.

The quilts mentioned in Everyday Use are important symbols in the story. These symbolize the way Dee looks at things made by her ancestors compared to the way Maggie and Mama see things. After Dinner, Dee looks in the trunk at the end of mamas bed. She comes out of the room with two quilts and asks mama, Can I have these old quilts? (57). Mama asks her to take different ones, because she has promised those to Maggie. Dee gets mad at mama because Maggie cant appreciate the quilts (58). Mama asks Dee what she would do with the quilts and she said Hang them, in a curious voice as if that was the only thing you do with quilts (58). Dee does not see that Mama and Maggie need the things that she thinks are decorations. Dee, again, wants to display her heritage as a work of art, while Mama and Maggie see them as things that should be used everyday.

The symbols used in Everyday Use show that Dee is more into displaying her heritage to make herself feel better about her life rather than using them in a way that properly represents and expresses her ancestors ways. Mama and Maggie are shown as more practical people, while Dee is looking for approval from people of her own ethnicity. Dee is displaying the parts of her unhappy life that she thinks make her look authentic or good. She picks and choose the parts that she wants to acknowledge, which shows the romantic she truly is. She is skipping over the pain of creating and enjoying the peace of displaying, while Mama and Maggie have embraced the life they have built, all parts of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Works Cited

Walker, Alice. Everyday Use. In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women. New York: Harcourt, 1973. 49-59

Tyranny and Identity in Everyday Use

Human rights activist Alice Walker is one of the most highly noted authors of the twentieth century. Her stories and poems are inspiring to many people. “Everyday Use” is, by far, one of the most motivational and controversial of her works. Many, since its publication in the early seventies, have criticized and praised this work for its accuracy on the difficulties of being an African-American woman. However, this work takes both sides of the spectrum into account. On one hand a mother is facing the obstacle of accepting her daughter’s solution to her own identity crisis, and on the other a daughter is rising above the oppression that held and still holds her race and gender down at the expense of losing the respect of her family. Through symbolism and characterization, Walker brings to light the importance of overcoming tyranny and identity crises.

Each character within “Everyday Use” is enduring an internal struggle, however Dee seems to be having the most trouble. Since a young age, she has been different from her mother and sister. It was noted that she was never satisfied with the house she lived in and she always tried to better herself in terms of education. Her ideals are typical of the 1960s and 70s. Many ridiculous laws and restrictions on African-Americans had finally been lifted; black power was in full swing. Young people were inspired to take action and break free from what had been holding their families back since they came into this country hundreds of years before. One important idea, pointed out by Susan Farrell, is that the story is told through the mother’s eyes. Everything we know about Dee is her mother’s opinion of her “ We must remember from the beginning that the story is told by Mama; the perceptions are filtered through her mind and her views of her two daughters are not to be accepted uncritically”. This leads the reader to question whether Dee is really as terrible as Mama makes her out to be. Perhaps, Mama simply doesn’t understand the new way of life and is opposed to change, maybe it scares her. This would certainly affect the portrayal of Dee. Dee is plainly a product of her time, a woman determined to rise above the depression of her people and become something better. This is conveyed through the clothes she wears, the language she has adopted, as well as the new name she has taken. She is attempting to free herself from the chains of society. However, Dee is not right in the ways that she treats her family. At times, she is completely selfish and quite harsh. She continually casts her mother and sister aside and makes them feel ignorant and useless. This is conveyed several times throughout the story: “She wrote me once that no matter where we “choose” to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends.” and “She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about the understand.” Dee has not been very kind to her family in this respect, and it is easy to understand her mother’s judgment of her. For a moment, in the latter half of the story, the reader believes that Dee might just not be so bad. She takes interest in objects around the house (especially the quilts), one thinks she might possibly have embraced part of her history, however it has brought to light that she wants them for decoration. Understandingly, from Mama’s point of view, this is upsetting. Traditionally, this is not something that black folks would do. Quilts are meant for everyday use. Nonetheless, this is Dee’s way of coping with the turbulent world around her and her efforts to better herself while still holding on to her heritage, so as to remind her where she came from (Walker, Farrell).

Just as Dee, Maggie is partially incorrectly portrayed as well. It is true that her sister seems to walk all over her, but this is entirely because of Maggie’s passive personality. As a young child she was burned in a house fire, and she seems to be ashamed of her scars and withdrawn because of all that has happened. This is a simply explanation for why she gives the impression of being afraid of her sister and even runs away from her when she comes to visit “ Maggie attempts to make a dash for the house, in her shuffling way, but I stay her with my hand”. This quote brings about a great point that Mama appears to always be controlling Maggie. Perhaps, Mama is overly controlling and protective towards Maggie because of her scars and her (Mama’s) lack of control over Dee. Mama also seems as if she “ is projecting her own anger and frustration onto her younger daughter…” Not once does Maggie voice her own opinion of Dee: she makes small actions like a noise or dropping an object. Walker gives the impression of Maggie being more of a plot device or an object rather than an actual character. Maggie is like a tool that Mama uses to project her own trials and tribulations (Tuten 179, Walker).

Mama is probably somewhere in her forties and has lived in a much different time than Maggie and Dee. When she was young, she had very few liberties as an African-American woman. Though Dee and Maggie’s generation has a long way to go, Mama’s generation went through a lot more. Her parents and their parents were likely sharecroppers, and though they may not have been slaves, they had virtually no rights. The 1960s completely transformed the world for African-Americans. Mama has not yet begun to understand this, she is still thinking in the way she has been taught to think. She would not look a white man in the eye “Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye? It seems to me I have talked to them always with one foot raised in flight, with my head turned in whichever way is farthest from them”. Just as with Dee, Mama is a product of her generation, which leads into why she treats her children the way she does. Dee’s behavior is shocking to her mother, just as with every parent/child relationship in every culture. She is the epitome of a typical “rebellious teenager”, or adolescent, except that she is actually beginning a revolution. Dee had to choose her family or a life “…making it, for Dee, and no doubt many others, had a price. The force required to stare the white world down was equaled by the intensity of a gaze, which burned her links to her past” and thus Mama must try to best to deal with this fact, which is very hard for her. Maggie, on the other hand, never disappoints Mama. She is simple and will lead a simple life; she is not threatening to Mama. Mama also has great sympathy for Maggie because of how she has been burned and is still affected by it in everyday life. She tries to protect her the best she can (Walker, Whitsitt 448).

Though the personalities of these three characters are important to the story, they are not the most important part. The symbolism throughout this story is extremely significant. The first essential piece of symbolism is the yard “A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room”. This yard is representative of Mama and Maggie’s simple life. Most people would think of a yard as either a decorative accent to their home or a place to play, but to them it is an extension of their house. They spend quite a bit of time here, just enjoying the breeze. The second piece of symbolism is the orchid “She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks orchids are tacky flowers”. Mama is dreaming in this sentence, but this gives the reader insight into what she is thinking. She is explaining how Dee would want her to look, but she is also fantasizing here that Dee would pin an orchid on her dress, which is a figurative example of how much Mama wants Dee to accept and respect her as a mother. While these are great examples of symbolism, the most crucial symbol in this entire story is the quilts in the end of the story. The quilts are meaningful to Dee, Mama and Maggie in different ways. To Dee, “The quilts… link her generation to prior generations, and thus they represent the larger African American past. The quilts contain scraps of dresses worn by the grandmother and even the great-grandmother, as well as a piece of the uniform worn by the great-grandfather who served in the union Army…” they are a work of art to her; memorabilia of her family’s past and she wishes to hang them on the walls as so. However, to Mama and Maggie (who as far as the reader knows have the same ideals), these quilts mean roughly the same as far as remembering the family’s past, but they would like to remember their family in a different way. They would use the quilts as they were intended to be used, on beds and to keep warm. They prefer to remember their family in comfort and practicality. To them, it would be gauche to hang a quilt on a wall. With this “… the reader, if not the daughter, sees clearly that it is the mother who truly understands and promotes the continuation of their ‘heritage’” (Bauer 150, Cowart 172, Walker).

“Everyday Use” has an abundant amount of great examples of characterization and symbolism. Each character was developed with their separate ideals and struggles and each holding onto their past the best they can “…women in Walker’s story are survivors who have attempted to make whole lives out of scraps”. However, it seems as though, in the end, Mama has rid her and Maggie of Dee altogether. Dee strove so hard to rid herself of oppression that she drove her own family away. It is important to realize that hardships are a part of any journey that must not be forgotten, or simply hung on a wall like artwork (Pierce-Baker 256).

Works Cited

Bauer, Margaret D. “Alice Walker: Another Southern Writer Criticizing Codes Not

Put to Use.” Studies in Short Fiction (1992): 143-51. Galileo. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Cowart, David. Critical Essays on Alice Walker. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies. Galileo. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Farrell, Susan. “Fight vs. Flight: A Re-Evaluation of Dee in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use'” Studies in Short Fiction (1998): 179-86. No Records. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Pierce-Baker, Charlotte, and Houston A. Baker, Jr. “Patches: Quilts and Community in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use'” The Southern Review (1985): 706-20. Galileo. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Tuten, Nancy. “Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”” Explicator 51.2 (1993): 125-28. Galileo. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Whitsitt, Sam. “In Spite of It All: Reading Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”” African American Review (n.d.): 443-59. Galileo. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.