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Everyday Use by Alice Walker
Transcript of Everyday Use by Alice Walker
Point of View
First person narrative- Mama tells the story as she sees it- which starts as middle ground, but shifts to favor Maggie.
Self-aware voice "I used to think she hated Maggie, too. But that was before we raised the money, the church and me, to send her to Augusta."
Suspense- Dee and Mama fight over quilts. " "But they're priceless!" she was saying now, furiously; for she has a temper."
Reoccurring Details- Dee/Wangero names and duality. "Dee (Wangero) looked at me with hatred." "I didn't want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college.
Tempo- Slow and laid back until Dee arrives. "...anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house. " "She jumped from the table and went over in the corner where the churn stood, the milk in it clabber by now."
Maggie- Walker likes her and presents her in such a light as a Christ-like archetype.
Dee- Walker dislikes what she represents- appearances and selfishness. She also is presented with no redeeming qualities.
Mama vs. Dee
Old Dee vs. New Dee
Dee vs. Maggie
Mama vs. Boyfriend
Mama vs. Mama
Just after Civil Rights movement
Transcends place within America- but in Georgia.
Dee/Wangero- Antagonist/Protagonist who is self-centered and wants what she can't have.
Mama- mother to Dee and Maggie, wants happiness for both daughters. Focused on ideals.
Hakim-a-barber- Dee's boyfriend/fiancee.
Maggie- Protagonist who just wants to earn Dee's respect.
Tone is a self aware one- Mama seems to know exactly what is always going on "He just stood there grinning, looking down on me like somebody inspecting a Model A car.
Uses idioms to further feeling of Southern black nature "Wangero, though, went on through the chitins and corn bread, the greens and everything else. She talked a blue streak over the sweet potatoes.
Walker makes readers sympathetic towards Maggie with "She will stand hopelessly in corners, homely, and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe."
Imagery- "Dee wanted nice things. A yellow organdy dress to wear to her graduation from high school; black pumps to match a green suit she'd made from an old suit somebody gave me." Used more to describe Dee and her focus on appearances.
Foreshadows Dee's character with "...her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her."
Walker focuses on heritage and where we come from- much different than all the rape and murder stories we've read.
Maggie- Christ-like figure (blankets and Mama feeling the Spirit)
Maggie's scars- insecurity
The quilt- the bond of generations- piece of fabric- individuals
The yard- judge-free zone/ safe place
Born February 9th, 1944
Youngest child of share croppers
Brother blinded scarred her right eye with a BB gun at 8
Always felt like outsider despite popularity, turned to literature for solace.
Attended Spelman College in Atlanta for 2 years and became civil right activist.
Transfered to Sarah Lawrence in NYC and recieved her BA degree
After YWPF in Finland, she was invited to MLK Jr.'s home.
Married Melvin Leventhal, a white civil attorney
Wrote Pulitzer Award winning book The Color Purple
Won THE National Book Award in 1983
Keeping up Appearances- Self Image
Making Sacrifices for those you Love
The Meaning of Heritage
Power of Education
Respect for Elders
1. Do you think Maggie would have felt inferior to Dee if she had also attended school?
2. Why do you think Mama disapproves of Dee's new boyfriend?
3. Dee says she wants to change her name to protest being named after the people who oppressed her. Do you think she is referring to Mama?
4. Why doesn't Hakim-a-barber talk much? Do you think he knows that Mama doesn't approve of him?
5. Do you think Dee would be different (personality wise) if she had been told "no" earlier on in her life?
6. Do you think Dee respects Maggie even though she fights for quilt that was already promised to her sister?
7. Why do you think Mama felt a "spirit" (one similar to what she feels in church) when she looks at Maggie?
"She will stand hopelessly in corners, homely, and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe."
Alice Walker reflects her own self-image through Maggie, as she does with many other characters in her various works.