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Everyday Use - Alice Walker

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction
by

Jean-Adelle Tagoe

on 24 January 2013

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Transcript of Everyday Use - Alice Walker

"Everyday Use" Maze Everyday Use by Alice Walker Maggie and Mother wait for Maggie’s sister, Dee, to arrive.
Mother dreams of a perfect life where Dee is not ashamed of her family.
Mother points out the differences between her two daughters. Dee is confident, and pretty, and she has her own style. Maggie is shy and ashamed of her burn marks.
Mother remembers when their first house burned down.
Mother describes how going to school changed Dee.
Dee arrives with a man (Asalamalakim). Mother has difficulty pronouncing the names but tries to please her daughter by learning the pronunciation.
Dee takes pictures of her mother and sister and their new house with her Polaroid camera
Dee says her new name is Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. She does not want to be named after the people who "oppress her".
After dinner, Dee takes the churn top and the dasher
Dee wants to take two quilts that Mother promised to Maggie
Dee argues that Maggie wouldn’t know how to use them properly
Maggie says Dee can have the quilts
Mother gives the quilts to Maggie and tells Dee to take one or two of the other quilts
Dee leaves claiming that they don’t understand their heritage
Maggie and Mother sit on the porch until it’s time to go to bed. They are happy. Maggie is more relaxed. Literary Elements Protagonist: Maggie and Dee's mother
Antagonist: Dee (Wangero)
Character Types:
Mother: round character. Becomes more fair with her daughters.
Maggie: dynamic character. Gains confidence and finally "wins" for a change. Foil character. Contrasts with Dee.
Dee: symbolic character. Forgot about the value of family and heritage. Foil character. Contrasts with Maggie.
Asalamalakim: static character. Only mentioned a few time. Not a big impact on the events in the story.
Point of View: first person
Setting: 1950’s-1960’s
Conflict: Maggie vs Dee. Dee always wins. Maggie always gives in to her sister.
Climax: When Dee reveals her change in name and in herself
Resolution: Mother finally stands up for Maggie, giving her the fairness she deserves. Symbols Burn scars - These scars make Maggie insecure. They trap her. Why? Dee doesn’t have burn scars- separates them further. Makes them different. Dee has the “perfect” life. The scars are a representation of her struggles and her deep past/having been burned is horribly painful. It represents how well Dee has it. She remains untouched during the fire. Whereas Maggie must live everyday with a reminder of that fire. She’s so used to being hurt (burned) that she wants to give Dee the quilt, but a new thing happens. She gets her way. The scars will probably begin to fade. Do the scars bring back memories of the burning house? Did Dee (Wangero) burn down their old house?
Polaroid camera- more wealthy, better than the rest of her family, more advanced, moving into the future. "It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it." (1518)
Name-change- Why did Dee kill her old self and come up with this new self? Did she actually kill her old self or is she just trying to bury and forget it. Oppressors= white people, racism, discrimination. Change name= deny oppressors.
Quilt- Connection between past and present, heritage, family, generations of struggle (pieces of clothing used to make the quilts), most valuable things the family has are the handmade objects passed down from generation to generation. The struggle that their ancestors went through to piece things together for future generation. Pure beauty.
Grandma Dee - like quilt. Remembering her reminds them of the struggle that was endured by their ancestors to make their lives better. Importance of family and heritage. Theme/Central Message Heritage and family are a part of everyone's daily lives. They are not just ideas of the past that should be put in a museum like meaningless artifacts.
All the objects that Dee wanted to use as decorative pieces are reminders of her family's past and should not be dismissed as treasures to be kept and displayed, but rather as treasures to be remembered.
It's not about the objects themselves. It's about the stories they carry and the history they tell. Current Events Same way the mothers pass down the quilts from generation to generation, it represents their values and the way they were raised
Whereas, this woman puts a gun in her 7 year old son’s school bag and gets arrested and in trouble with the authorities
Represents the kind of parent she is.
Probably unwell and grew up unstably
The way your children turn out and the things/lessons you pass onto them represent the kind of parent you are and your beliefs
He could have been killed, classmates could have been killed.
In the midst of Newtown Tragedy, this mother was wrong for what she did and this is not a matter to play with or to try and gain attention with With MLK Jr. Day having been this week, it must be brought to light the usage of the N-Word that so many black youth use to refer to one another
Rappers use it constantly in their songs
People call those around them by that name
People fought for a long time to rid themselves of that harsh past and the term that they were known as.
With ignorance, it has become a part of the vocabulary of so many youth
Much like the quilt, the heritage needs to be spread and passed on. The children need to know their past Generalization http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/18/us/new-york-backpack-guns/index.html?hpt=ju_c2
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