The short story “Everyday Use,” narrates the story of a strained and conflicting relationship between a mother and her two daughters. Superficially, the short story tells how the mother disregards the superficial values of her older daughter who is successful and embraces the practical values of her younger and less fortunate daughter. Looked at deeply, the author analyzes how the concept of heritage applies for African Americans. The short story was written in the 60s and 70s when African Americans were struggling to find their identities in terms of culture. The term Negro was not being used after it had been replaced by black. African Americans were prepared to rediscover their origins and were ready to shun the American heritage which was filled with injustices and pain. In this essay, I will give my own ideal about the short story Everyday Use by Alice Walker.
Own Ideal about the Short Story
Alice Walker was born in 1944 to Minnie Tallulah and Willie Lee. She was the daughter of sharecropper just as most of her fictional characters are. When she was eight years old, she got an injury as a result of a BB gun that was accidentally fired by her brother. This caused partial blindness to her compelling her to abandon most of her childhood activities. As a result, she started writing poetry to allay the pain of losing her eyesight partially and kill the loneliness. She discovered that for her to write well, she required a quiet and peaceful environment but this was not possible given the living conditions she was staying in. she spend most of her time working from outside sitting under a tree (Luminarium 2001).
Everyday Use is a short story that was written towards the end of 1960s. It highlights the differences which existed in the American society in the 50s and 60s as a result of racial matters. The story is a depiction of the different perspectives from which culture and the heritage of an individual can be looked at (Gale 2010). The storyline of the short story is the conflict between two sisters, Dee and Maggie who have contrasting characters as the author portrays. Maggie is not as attractive as attractive as Dee. Mama says, “She knows she is not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passed her by” (Walker 560). Maggie also lacks self confidence as the author says, “She will stand hopelessly in corners homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs…” (Walker 559).
Literal techniques are highly used to depict Maggie as a girl with physical inferiority and slow mental development. Her physical inferiority is portrayed right from the start of the story when it is informed that Maggie had burn scars all over her legs and arms. When words such as hair smoking and arms sticking are used, this forms images in the mind of the reader to envisage a little girl who is suffering and appealing for sympathy. Her character represents the African Americans who could not stop thinking of their mental and physical injuries and…