Alice Walker’s Symbolizm

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Alice Walker is known for an internationally celebrated writer, poet, and activist. She has won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in the year 1983 and the National Book Award and she was also in fact the first African American woman to win these awards. Her work is incredible, and her poems are interesting to read. Her work can be noted for their individual creativity and how she relates them to the problems going on the African American culture. Her most popular book is “The Color Purple”.

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However, the one provided for this analysis provides a clear solution to the conflict created by one of mama’s daughters. The provided is called “Everyday Use” and it addresses the predicament of African Americans who were struggling to define their culture identities, and is also based on pride, heritage, and learning what kind of person you really are. The mother has two daughters Dee who is the oldest and has a mindset that because she is better than the rest she deserves to get handed down the cherished old quilt and Maggie was the complete opposite from her and due to Dee thinking and saying that she has created a conflict between the family. Due to the way Walker symbolizes the “quilts” and the legacy of the family it creates a conflict between mama and the daughters throughout the entire story which in fact turns it into an outstanding one.

From the first couple of stanzas’ you can tell that Dee is a conceded brat and has never received a “no” her entire childhood while living with mama, while Maggie on the other hand was the complete opposite as described in the short story “a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground.” because she was shy and embarrassed especially when she was near Dee. Mama mentions that Maggie feels ashamed about her burned scares that run from her arms down her legs that happened about a decade ago when their old house burned down and she had to save Maggie from the awful fire leaving her with those scares and remembering that Dee didn’t even bother to help she in fact just stood there contentedly that the house she hated was getting destroyed. Mama believes that she is ashamed and embarrassed because as noted in the story “she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs.” with this being mentioned the reader can recognize that Maggie feels she is an awkward child and that she feels she does not belong anywhere near her sister because of her looks and just the way she is compared to Dee. Due to this being mentioned in the story we the readers get a feeling of sadness because that is not the way she should feel she is beautiful no matter the defects she has. As of now the narrator now well knows that Maggie is a sad hearted woman who is ashamed of her body and does not like to be seen with her conceded sister Dee who believes she is better than anyone and deserves the world.

Dee arrives from being away for a while wearing ankle length gold and orange dress, jangling golden earrings and bracelets, hair that “stands straight up like the wool on a sheep.” With her boyfriend who to mama seems to be Muslim because he greets Maggie with this Muslim shake that she does not understand. Dee even changed her name to Wangero which shocked her mama and explains to her that she changed it because she is protesting being named after people who have oppressed her. However according to mama little does Dee (Wangero) know that she was named after her aunt who was named Dicie who was named after her grandma Dee. After mama is introduced to Dee’s (Wangero) boyfriend Hakim-a-barber she stays with this thought in her mind if her they are married.

After they sit down to eat Wangero (Dee) spots the butter churn in the corner and asks mama is she can have the top which mama mentions that it was carved by uncle Buddy but before mama can even answer her she also asks for the dasher which is a device with blades used to make butter. In fact, even after she asks for those two items so starts going through a bin and the end of mama’s bed, which leads her to find two quilts that were made by her mama, her aunt, and grandmother. Those quilts contained garments worn by family members back in the day even including during the time of the Civil War. After she asked mama for all these things mama mentions that she had promised Maggie the quilts. Dee then starts ranting about Maggie not going to appreciate the quilts and how she is not smart enough to preserve them. Mama argues otherwise and designates that they should be put to everyday use.

This poem was well written by Alice Walker in the year 1973 and has its own distinct plot on the conflict between the mother and daughters.

The story is taken place during the African American Civil Rights Movement, which then we analyze that it is the mindset of these three African ladies spirt that symbolize the significance of Feminine Consciousness that projects the Literature topic of this wonderful short story. Therefore, during this particular time, it was also when African Americans were struggling to define their personal identities when it came down to their cultures. Walkers main purpose in this short story was to challenge the Black Power Movement and the Black people in general to learn how to respect and acknowledge their American heritage.

As a result, to Walkers amazing short story she points out that the quilts are part of the family’s history and she tries to make it very clear to the readers that the story is basically on how they should take into consideration what their heritage is and where exactly they come from. She also bases her entire story on the different viewpoints about heritage in their family. For example, Dee who changes her name to Wangero does not take into consideration nor does she bother to ask why she was named Dee before changing it making her not interested in how she came about with that name. Mama and Maggie perceive they heritage in a totally different way rather than how Dee does.

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Alice Walker's symbolizm. (2019, Jan 22). Retrieved from