Characterization And Symbolism In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, is a short story of Mrs. Johnson and her two daughters, Maggie and Dee, whose personalities are total opposites. Mrs. Johnson states that Maggie was the chosen daughter to receive the two hands- stitched quilts since she sees heritage as memories of past people in her life and understands how the hand-stitched quilts should be put to “everyday use.” On the other hand, Dee received an education and is modern; she left behind her quiet rural town life and adapted to a newly constructed version of African- American heritage and argues that the hand-stitched quilts should be put on display as a decoration. Walker uses characterization and symbolism to highlight the importance of the African American’s tradition and …show more content…
Johnson describes herself as a “large, big-boned woman” to shows that she knows what her body looks like and accept it to a point to mention that her fats keep her warm in the cold weather (Walker 314). The description of her body shows that she is hard-working and have experience hardship in her past which is a part of her identity and heritage. Maggie is described as a shy and not as pretty because of the scar on her body, making her have a shy and quiet personality. Maggie is like her mother, a girl that understands and appreciate the traditions and honors her past ancestors. Out of the two daughters, Maggie is the one that learned how to quilt from her grandmother indicating that she has the desires to learn about the tradition and heritage of her family. On the contrary, Dee is the daughter that has received an education, considered beautiful, and has ambition. Dee obtaining an education has caused a struggle while trying to connect with her mother and Maggie. Dee has adopted a new tradition that does not follow the same tradition as her mother and sister. When she left to get an education, she left behind all of her knowledge about her immediate cultural heritage and adapted for the deep, historical version of the African- American heritage that she learned. She dropped her name from “Dee” to Wangero, which is an African name, even though the name “Dee” can be traced back to her grandmother and even further back as the Civil War. Dee attempting to change her …show more content…
Johnson has promised to hand off to Maggie are symbolic as it represents the family’s tradition and cultural heritage. Grandma Dee turns this activity into a learning experience to teach them specifically about Johnson’s heritage because the quilts contain swatches of clothes from past generation of family members and hold significant meaning. The quilts also represent the bonds between people. The quilts were just not made by one person, “they have been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and me hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them” showing that it requires several generations of family members to make the quilts, as Mrs. Johnson, her sister, and her mother work together to assemble the quilts (Walker 320). The relationship between Mrs. Johnson and her sister shows that they were close, as sisters should be unlike Maggie and Dee. Maggie and Dee have nothing in common and cannot hold a lengthy conversation with each other. Quilting is used as a primary symbol to signify the African American past. Quilting is a part of the African American’s tradition, and it is passed down from generation to generation to show the family’s culture and where they came from. When Dee and Mrs. Johnson are arguing over who should keep the quilts, Mrs. Johnson believe that the quilts should be passed down to Maggie because the purpose of the quilts is to display the culture of the family and Maggie is the only person that can keep the

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