Identifying Culture In Everyday Use English Literature Essay

Throughout the twentieth century, African-Americans faced many obstructions. They struggled to get the better of bias and poorness in society and to place their civilization. Alice Walker demonstrates how the heritage of Southern African-Americans is of import to adult females in her gripping short narrative, “ Everyday Use. ” She permits her readers to analyze the life styles of twentieth century Afro-american adult females. Walker reveals how different ethical motives and ordinary objects can non merely distance household members but besides link them to their heritage. She focuses on three Afro-american adult females to allow society see the challenges African-Americans encountered and overcame. Walker besides succeeds in doing her readers differentiate between exposing one ‘s civilization and seting it to utilize in memory of one ‘s ascendants. Alice Walker uses symbolism, characters with opposing positions, and puting to exemplify how civilization relates to three Afro-american adult females and the significance of their heritage in the short narrative, “ Everyday Use. ”

The comforters in the narrative typify the tradition and heritage of Southern Afro-american adult females. The narrative reveals their tradition of quilt devising and the importance of their practical, artistic accomplishments ( Hoel 40 ) . Walker shows how adult females can do invaluable points by utilizing little garbages of vesture that others merely would hold thrown off. Mama explains how the patched comforters are made from “ garbages of frocks Grandma Dee had worn 50s and more old ages ago. Spots and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell ‘s Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded bluish piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra ‘s uniform that he wore in the Civil War ” ( Walker 113 ) . Harmonizing to Hoel, the narrative awards “ the anon. adult females who have been able to invent something beautiful and functional out of street arabs ” ( Hoel 40 ) .

The crafted comforters typify a important clip for Afro-american adult females, their imposts, and the importance of their artistic accomplishments. In the narrative, Dee believes that she deserves the comforters. She doubts that her female parent and sister understand what the quilts signify or how indispensable they are to the household ‘s background. Ironically, her female parent and sister really appreciate the comforters more than Dee because of the difficult work they put into them. Harmonizing to Whitsitt, the comforter “ is stitched to the universe that produces it. ” The comforters connect adult females to the yesteryear and the yesteryear to the present ( Whitsitt 445 ) . The comforters serve as a connexion between Dee ‘s coevals and old coevalss ; as a consequence, they symbolize the history of African-Americans ( Cowart 172 ) . Harmonizing to Cowart, “ for Maggie and her female parent, the thought of heritage is perpetually low-level to the fact of a life tradition, a tradition in which one coevals remains in touch with its predecessors by agencies of homely accomplishments that get passed on ” ( Cowart 179 ) .

The usage of direct opposite characters adds to the impact of the narrative. A polarisation is set up between the characters ( Whitsitt 455 ) . Walker describes the three chief characters as direct antonyms. Mama and Maggie are reasonably similar while Dee is the direct antonym of the two. Walker reveals the importance of one ‘s heritage. She besides explains how adult females ‘s positions on their civilization may change because non all adult females are likewise. The writer besides paints a graphic image to let her readers to visualise the battle adult females went through in specifying their cultural individualities.

Walker describes how Mama and Dee differ in their beliefs about their heritage. Mama represents a adult female with a simple life style and a strong grasp for her heritage. Mama is non concerned by the manner other people view her or her manner of life. She is satisfied with simple satisfactions. For illustration, she is pleased with a clean swept pace and a lip full of snuff ( Walker 108, 114 ) . Fashion tendencies do non traverse her head when it comes to her imposts. She appreciates her heritage for what it is, non the manner it looks on a wall. Maggie and Mama realize that each coevals remains near through their civilization ‘s traditions ( Cowart 179 ) .

The differentiation between Maggie and Dee is amplified throughout the narrative. When comparing use of linguistic communication, Maggie and Dee are really different. Maggie has a composure and selective usage of linguistic communication while Dee has an aggressive and self-serving usage of linguistic communication ( Tuten 127 ) . Maggie is described as docile and attempts to go forth any state of affairs that might present a menace ( Gruesser 184 ) . An illustration of this is when Dee arrives. Maggie tries to fly instantly. Mama and Maggie are likewise in this country. When Mama encounters a white adult male, she acts as Maggie does ( Gruesser 184 ) . Maggie is a thin, scarred, hapless miss. In contrast, Dee is shapely, favored, and educated ( Gruesser 185 ) . Maggie, like Mama, takes her heritage earnestly. Dee has non learned to quilt ; accordingly, the ability to quilt will non be if adult females like Maggie do non go on to transport on the tradition ( Cowart 179 ) . Maggie sees “ the comforter as a procedure instead than as trade good, ” which Dee can non look to understand ( Whitsitt 455 ) .

Dee is a character whose lone concern is the latest manner. She does non recognize the importance of her heritage. She changes her name to Wangero merely because she “ could n’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress ” her ( Cowart 172 ) . The new name is supposed to capture her civilization, but the name “ Dee ” is a better look of her civilization since many members of her household had this name. Mama thinks she could follow the name in their household prior to the Civil War, but Dee merely sees the name as a changeless reminder that African- Americans were deprived of valid names ( Cowart 172 ) . This new name farther alienates her from her rural beginnings ( Cowart 172 ) . Dee does non recognize that her old name is more a portion of her civilization than her adoptive African name, which did non associate to any member of her household ( Hoel 38 ) . Dee signifies a adult female with a modern life style who perceives civilization as something to be displayed ( Cowart 175 ) . She ne’er considers the fact that the comforter could hold been put to utilize. Walker displays these opposing positions to show how adult females were confused about their heritage as the definitions of adult females and their life styles began to alter. Mama lives as a hard-working adult female while Dee attended college to populate a more respectable life as an educated adult female.

Walker describes the history of African-Americans and their battle for freedom by comparing the characters to the scene, the different houses. Walker focuses on the rural Southern roots of Afro-american civilization. Walker “ associates houses with adult females, and this narrative of three adult females is besides the narrative of three houses, one that burned, one that shelters two of the fire ‘s subsisters, and one, ne’er straight described, that is to be the depository of assorted articles of this household ‘s yesteryear, its heritage ” ( Cowart 174, 175 ) .

In the narrative, Walker compares the original Johnson house to Maggie. Both Maggie and the house are destroyed in a sense. In Maggie ‘s instance, it is her tegument. Walker explains that she would ever be “ ashamed of the burn scars down her weaponries and legs ” ( Walker 109 ) . The fire signifies the force that takes topographic point throughout the Afro-american yesteryear. It moves from bondage, which is one of the most unforgettable clip periods in Afro-american history, to the ghetto-torching public violences that shortly spread throughout the state, to the inner-city force of the undermentioned decennaries ( Cowart 174 ) . This illustrates the courage of adult females by demoing how they survived through all of the adversity. Maggie symbolizes the many Afro-american adult females who suffer and are scarred from multiple catastrophes ( Cowart 174 ) .

Walker compares the present Johnson house to Mama. The scene is described as a “ pace that is more comfy than most people know ” ( Walker 108 ) . Walker tries to explicate how Mama and the house are likewise. Both could utilize a makeover but are content merely as they are. They are both field, low, and every bit alone ( Cowart 175 ) . Mama is non like most adult females of that clip period since she could make work better than any adult male. The pace symbolizes the hapless nature of African-Americans during this clip period ( Cowart 176 ) . The pace is depicted as holding merely one tree and as really simplistic. Like the storyteller, the house is au naturel, but it is filled with an copiousness of religious ownerships ( Cowart 176 ) . Mama and the pace are both dull on the outside, but on the interior, they are filled with many memories.

In the narrative, Walker does non uncover the 3rd house, but one could presume that it would be compared to Dee. She would hold many invaluable objects from her household ‘s history hanging on her walls. The reader could say that Dee ‘s house would be stylish and would be used to continue artefacts from her Afro-american heritage. They would merely function as points to be displayed because Dee is worried about the latest tendencies instead than anything else. “ This last house, owned by and symbolic of Dee, embodies the cultural job Walker seeks to turn to in her narrative ” ( Cowart 175 ) . Dee believes that her heritage is to be put on show merely when such a show is fashionable ( Cowart 175 ) . For illustration, before she had gone to college, Mama had tried to give Dee a comforter, but she had said that it was out of manner ( Walker 113 ) . Harmonizing to Cowart, Dee thinks that the Afro-american yesteryear can be freed merely by being commodified, which is why she wants the comforters to hang on her wall and why she wants the palpebra of the butter churn to utilize as a centrepiece for her tabular array ( Cowart 175 ) .

In “ Everyday Use, ” Walker uses multiple methods to exemplify the Afro-american adult females of the twentieth century. She uses the comforters to stand for adult females ‘s heritage and how it pertains to their mundane lives. The comforters serve as a recollection of many adult females from coevals to coevals. The grandma, the female parent, and the girl are all sewn together like the spots in the comforter. Through the usage of symbolism, opposite characters, and scene, Walker relays a compelling narrative that can associate non merely to the heritage of past coevalss but to the heritage of future coevalss as good.

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