Everyday Use – the Gift of Family

1 January 2017

I will describe how I personally relate to the theme, and implications that I made from the story. A discussion of my impressions from reading the story the first time will be included along with whom I think the author was writing the story to and the purpose. Alice Walker uses a variety of strategies to convey particular ideas to engage the readers. She uses symbolism, foreshadowing, and uses the different elements of irony. The quilt is a concept of symbolism because it represents the inheritance of the family’s past.

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Dee and Maggie’s grandmother handmade the quilts, which in Dee (Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo) eyesight is a symbolic trait of heritage art. The beginning of the story illustrate Dee is a child who is into the opportunities, knowledge, and lessons life has to offer. Walker, 1973/2011, states “She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts” (pp. 1089). This foreshadowing later prepares the readers to understand the outcome regarding why Dee has change her identity, for the purpose of a better life than her mother and sister, and to relate and become knowledgeable of her ancestors.

Within the story Walker uses irony to help the readers understand the theme of the story. It is thought to believe that Dee will go off to school in Augusta for better chances of an education, which she does, but the unexpected change of her identity was a twist in the ending results. I believe the theme of this story is being appreciative of one past and the legacy it beholds. I relate to the theme of Everyday Use because I am an individual who cherish the value and legacy behind my family’s past. I value the materials, stories, and handcrafted art that has been made by my family (especially those that I never met).

Nevertheless, Alice Walker proves her point of the theme through the two sisters Dee and Maggie. She introduces the unique characteristics of each child significantly. Alice describes Maggie as a bashful child who has a mixture of envying her sister, but yet ashamed of her own appearance: “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (Walker, 1973/2011, pp. 087). However, it is perceived to the readers that Dee is the golden child or the child who has it easy in life. Momma describes Dee in the Maggie’s perception to the readers: “She thinks her sister had held life always in the palm of one hand, that “no” is a word the world never learned to say to her” (Walker, 1973/2011, pp. 1087). The significant difference between the two sisters is how Maggie embraces her past (handmade quilts) and Dee wants them for the beauty of the art.

The one inference I made from the story was how Dee despise her mother and sister for nothing wanting the better things in life, and becoming comfortable with the traditional lifestyle of not being educated. Dee tells Maggie at the end of the story how she should make better of her life: “You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It’s really a new day for us. But the way you and mama still live you’d never know it” (Walker, 1973/2011, pp. 1093).

The first impression of the story was why did the author title the story “Everyday Use” and what was the meaning behind it. After reading the story for the second time, I understood the strategies Alice Walker use to help convey the readers comprehend the life lesson of valuing family and the heritage. Some portions of the reading stood out to me such as how the mother did not earn a full education, she work like a man, how Maggie hid behind her scars, and envy her sister, and the important facts of how Dee look down on her mother and sister.

The portions stood out because it help me to understand the theme and meaning behind the story. I believe Alice Walker was writing to any, and everyone who may forget where they come from and who they are. The story makes a valuable point that lets individuals know it is not where you come from, but what you gain makes you the individual you are. In conclusion Alice Walker develops a story around the theme of family, past, and inheritance. She uses some of literature resourceful elements to engage the readers in nderstanding the theme of the story. Nonetheless, stories like Everyday Use happens every day to families who may have a relative that in some form is ashamed of his or her current lifestyle, and wants better, but forgets the value of family and heritage. The price of family value is priceless. Reference Walker, A. (2011). “Everyday Use”. In S. Barnet, W. Burto, & W. E. , Cain (Eds. ). Literature for Composition (9th ed. , pp. 1087-1093). Boston, MA. (Original work published 1973).

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