Alice Walker’s Self Portrayal In “Everyday Use

2600 words - 10 pages

Alice Walker draws on her personal experiences growing up as a sharecropper's daughter in Georgia to realistically relate the story, "Everyday Use." The story features two sisters, Maggie and Dee, who are very different from each other physically, intellectually, and emotionally and their mother, referred to as "Mama." One who is unaware of Walker's past may believe that she equates herself with Dee's character. In fact, Maggie more precisely exemplifies the author's self image. Although one can find similarities between Dee's life and Walker's, the parallels between her life and Maggie's are too abundant to ignore. Additionally, Walker's poem, "For My Sister Molly Who in the Fifties," describes a very "Dee-esque" person. In her book, In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens, Walker states regarding the poem that it "is a pretty real poem. It really is about one of my sisters"(269). This statement supports the claim that Walker relies on her childhood memories as material for her writing. The first reflection of Walker's childhood is found in the yard and house in "Everyday Use." They are an accurate depiction of her childhood homestead. She begins the story with a description of the yard in which Maggie and Mama await Dee's arrival. Mama informs the reader, "It is not just a yard. It is an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit [ . . . ]" (Walker, Everyday 89). In a conversation with her mother about the cliché concerning greener grass, Walker alludes to having a sand yard as a child. She asserts, "Grass on the other side of the fence might have good fertilizer, while grass on your side might have to grow, if it grows at all, in sand" (Walker, In Search 58-59). The yard in "Everyday Use" is a sanctuary where, as Mama tells the reader, one can "wait for the breezes that never come inside the house" (Walker, Everyday 89). Discussing her mother's art of gardening, Walker praises her for creating that same feeling of refuge where, "even my memories of poverty are seen through a screen of blooms" (Walker, In Search 241). The house in the story consists of three rooms and is located in a pasture. Similarly, Walker's house contained four rooms and as she reveals in her book, In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens, "It shocks me to remember that when we lived here we lived, literally, in a pasture" (43). Obviously, the setting of "Everyday Use" is derived directly from Walker's childhood memories. Correspondingly, Walker bases the three women in the story, Mama, Dee, and Maggie Johnson, on her mother, her sister, and herself respectively. Mama proclaims that she is "a large, big-boned woman with rough man-working hands" (Walker Everyday 90). Walker describes her mother, in In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens, as being "large" and...

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1563 words - 7 pages present. This is the last straw for her mom and she tells Dee no, which causes Dee to get angry because she knows that Maggie will actually use the blankets and they will fall apart in a few years. Dee leaves angry and then Maggie and her mom move on with their lives. This is a very effective story because they story shows two very different views, creates entertaining characters, and contains a powerful message. In Everyday Use, Alice Walker uses

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