“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

To begin with, let us mention, that the short story “Everyday Use” was written by Alice Walker and it is a remarkable literary work that is worth readers’ attention due to its deep meaning and symbolism.

The author manages to convey her ideas by means of describing three unique female characters that are present in the story. All of them are blood relatives, but in fact, they represent absolute opposites. Each character is used by Alice Walker in order to show the reader controversial relationship in the family and on a larger scale the author wants to show different attitudes of Afro-American people to their culture.

The first character to be analyzed is Dee, or Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, as she calls herself. She is the elder daughter in the family and she represents an Afro-American who cuts her ties with her people, betrays her cultural heritage, which can be proved by her change of name and many other facts. For instance, Dee used to hate the house where she had lived with her family and she was obviously happy when the house was burned down, no matter that her younger sister, Maggie, was seriously injured by the fire. Dee wanted to escape from her house and family, and she managed to do so when she was sent to school. And the story describes her and her man’s visit to her hometown and the feelings of her mother and younger sister about her arrival.

Speaking about Dee’s younger sister, Maggie, it should be mentioned that she is a person who will protect Afro-American culture, who will cherish the traditions and customs of her people because she is the bearer of the traditions, represented in the story by her skill of making quilts. Speaking about her appearance and character, she is a weak, unattractive girl, very modest and shy, moreover, she has complexes, because her body looks ugly because of the scars she got in the fore. It seems that she hates her elder sister because she is smart, beautiful, and successful. Maggie is the “ugly duckling” of the family and at first, it seems that even her mother does not love her, because she does not even notice her presence and she dreams only about her elder daughter and about a good relationship with her. The mother thinks a very rude thought about Maggie: that “Like good looks and money, quickness passed her” (Walker 26). It is a very cruel thought, and what makes it even worse is that it is a thought of the mother about her daughter. Still, at the end of the story, we can see a smile on Maggie’s lips and this is the sign of her victory and happy end.

Speaking about the mother of the family, who is the protagonist and the narrator in the story at the same time, it must be mentioned that is the representative of the older generation and the bearer and the keeper of traditions of her people. The description of her character is the description of a typical Afro-American woman. In the story, she speaks about her feelings for her two daughters and we can see how they change gradually. At first, she is waiting for Dee with controversial feelings: she worships her, she is afraid of her and she loves and hates her at the same time. However, at the end of the story, after the quarrel over quilts, she understands that Dee is no longer part of their family and she is happy when Dee departures with her man. But the mother understands that she really loves her younger daughter who really deserves love and who was deprived of care and warm feelings for a long time.

To conclude, let us say that the deep symbolism of the story makes the reader think about many questions of vital importance: the need to preserve traditions and ties with your people, the need to be kind to your relatives. If the story awakens warm feelings and desire to do something good, it means that it is worth reading.