“ Everyday Use ” is Alice Walker ‘s response to the perceptual experience of heritage articulated by the black power motions during the sixtiess. African Americans were upset with the failure of integrating and gravitated to the doctrine of cultural patriotism to achieve emancipation ( Christian 10 ) . “ Everyday Use ” tells a narrative of a female parent and her two girls ‘ opposed thoughts of their history and individualities. The narrative illustrates the differences between Mrs. Johnson and her docile girl Maggie, who still enjoy their lives of populating traditionally in their little southern place, and her older, educated girl Dee, who prefers her late adopted individuality, “ Wangero, ” in favour of an pretentious Native American peculiarity. Though the female parent and older girl have two opposing ideals about traditions throughout the narrative, the struggles between the two point of views create tenseness that keeps the reader hooked. Although there is no definite right point of view about the traditions expressed, the elements of fiction used in the narrative allow the reader to see both sides. Alice Walker uses imagination through animate beings and struggle through the character ‘s personalities to acquire the importance of heritage across in “ Everyday Use. ”
Harmonizing to John Gruesser, “ Although the etymologies of the words ‘cow ‘ and ‘cower ‘ are non the same, it is likely that Walker is suggesting at the former by using the latter ” ( 184 ) . Mama besides relegates herself to the cow when explicating her ain organic structure linguistic communication when she encounters white males. Mama says, “ It seems to me I have talked to them ever with one pes raised in flight, with my caput turned in whichever manner is farthest from them ” ( Walker 109 ) . The connexion of Maggie and Mama to the cattles is reinforced when Dee lines up the two to take a Polaroid of them and the house. During the procedure of taking the image, a existent cow randomly wanders into the pace and into the snapshot. Mama besides refers to overawe when she tells of her former interest of milking the cattles until she was “ hooked in the side in 1949 ” ( Walker 110 ) . Mama says, “ Cattles are comforting and decelerate and do n’t trouble oneself you, unless you try to milk them the incorrect manner ” ( Walker 110 ) . Mama ‘s given of the cattles connects to the stoping of the narrative when Dee makes the mistake of trying to take the comforters that were antecedently promised to Maggie.
Another case of imagination takes place early in the short narrative. Mama explains that Maggie walks like “ a square animate being, possibly a Canis familiaris tally over by some careless individual rich plenty to have a auto ” ( Walker 109 ) . At the terminal of the narrative Mama describes Maggie in similar footings after Maggie tells her female parent that Dee can hold the comforters. Mama says, “ I looked at her hard. She had filled up her bottom lip with checker-berry snuff and it gave her face a sort of dopey, guilty expression ” ( Walker 113 ) . It is absolutely suited that carnal imagination should be a portion of “ Everyday Use, ” a narrative with a rural scene, and a storyteller who supports herself by having and raising her ain farm animal. Gruesser said, “ Walker goes a measure farther, nevertheless, by utilizing ‘hooking cattles ‘ and ‘hangdog expressions ‘ to reenforce the major subject of her narrative ” ( Gruesser185, Walker 110, 113 ) .
The struggles between the characters throughout “ Everyday Use ” maintain the reader hooked and assist him or her to understand the subject of heritage. Maggie, Mama, and Dee each portray different personalities. Maggie can be described as lovingness and passive. When Dee arrives at her former homestead, Maggie “ efforts to do a elan for the house, in her shuffling manner ” ( Walker 110 ) . Mama yells at her to come back, “ and she stops and attempts to delve a well in the sand with her toe ” ( Walker 110 ) . She can frequently be found concealing behind Mama when in the presence of her beautiful, knowing, older sister. When Dee argues that she should be the girl to possess the comforters, Maggie offers to give them to her because she can retrieve her grandma without them. Maggie ‘s reaction to Dee ‘s sudden compulsion with the comforters can be seen as lovingness or cowardly depending on how the reader perceives the state of affairs. If the reader sees Maggie as the supporter and Dee as more of the adversary, so the reader will most likely prefer to believe Maggie was moving out of pure kindness when she offered to give up the comforters that were promised to her long ago. If the reader saw no mistake in any of Dee ‘s actions prior to the climactic scene of the battle over the comforters, nevertheless, the reader might see Maggie as endorsing down from a straight intense state of affairs and moving “ cowardly ” ( Walker 111 ) .
Dee wholly contrasts with her younger sister. She can be described as bold, contradicting, and complex. Opposed to Maggie and Mama ‘s instead apparent manner of vesture, Dee wears bright, beautiful colourss like the frock she wears during her visit with Mama and Maggie. “ At 16 she had a manner of her ain: and she knew what manner was ” ( Walker 110 ) . Dee presents the attitude during the period of the Black Power motion good. She looks anyone in the oculus without a second of vacillation and corsets aggressive with her demands. Though Dee stands strong in her beliefs, sarcasm is shown as she ends up beliing herself. For illustration, she changes her name to honour her heritage, but in world her name had already accomplished this, as her name had been her grandma ‘s. Another dry fact is how she used to be wholly ashamed of where she came from, and now she can non acquire plenty of the simple things around the house like the lovely benches with “ rump prints, ” or Grandma Dee ‘s butter dish ( Walker 112 ) .
A major difference between Dee and her female parent and sister is that Dee prefers linguistic communication over silence. Dee was determined to be educated, and after she accomplished her schooling she used her cognition to insulate herself and to suppress and pull strings others ( Tuten 125 ) . Mama evokes that Dee “ washed us [ Mama and Maggie ] in a river of pretense, burned us with a batch of cognition we did n’t needfully necessitate to cognize. Pressed us to her with the serious manner she read, to jostle us off at merely the minute, like nitwits, we seemed about to understand ” ( Walker 110 ) . It is non surprising that Dee ‘s younger sister Maggie is intimidated by her, or that Maggie and Mama are leery of linguistic communication and therefore show themselves with actions opposed to words. In the terminal, it is Mama ‘s actions that silence her oldest girl, as Dee leaves the room “ without a word ” ( Walker 113 ) .
Mama ‘s character is circular and invariably altering throughout the narrative. “ Maggie ‘s patience in the narrative contrasts with Dee ‘s daring, ” and Mama tries to delight both girls ( Farrel 183 ) . She envies her girl Dee and her ability to be every bit brave as she is without of all time believing twice about it, but she besides tries to protect her girl Maggie from the universe and its harmful possibilities ( Farrel 181 ) . She holds fast to the regard that she and Maggie portion for tradition and hereditary history, but she besides tries to esteem Dee ‘s new-found involvement in their heritage. In the terminal, ironically, by standing up against Dee, Mama is really moving more like her oldest girl. Mama uses the voice she was ever afraid to utilize, the voice she learned how to utilize by watching Dee. Walker shows that Mama is able to achieve a balance between the two types of heritage that are represented by her two highly different progeny. She merges Maggie ‘s regard for tradition with Dee ‘s high quality and rebuttal to endorse down ( Farrel 186 ) . Mama, Maggie, and Dee have highly contrasting beliefs and personalities, but that is a helpful ingredient in the procedure of Walker seeking to acquire the cardinal subject of the importance of heritage across to the reader.
Walker uses alone ways to portray the subject of the importance of heritage in “ Everyday Use. ” The manner she uses imagination to assist the reader visualise the scene and relationship between the characters and the animate beings truly helps to paint a graphic image that forces the reader to look beyond the obvious text and to read deeper between the lines. Walker could hold compared her characters to trees, flowers, or any other life species, but she chose to utilize animate beings because animate beings relate to human existences the most. For Mama and Maggie, traditions are contrived on a foundation of familial objects and ways of thought. For Dee, traditions are something that no longer have daily usage and are besmirched by the yesteryear. The different mentalities and personalities of each character have shaped the traditions they rely on and hold created the tenseness that keeps the reader hooked. Each character has a typical personality that bleeds through the text and into the reader ‘s position to the point where the reader chooses instinctively whose values he or she desires to believe. Walker uses quilting to typify heritage because the household comforters are passed down from coevals to coevals, similar to the household heritage. “ Everyday Use ” is a phrase that brings up the inquiry of whether or non heritage should be displayed for everyone to comprehend in mundane life or if it should be protected and kept in a safe, consecrated topographic point. The rubric non merely pertains to the comforter, but more so to people ‘s heritage and how they prefer to esteem it.