Everyday Use Symbolism

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In Alice Walker’s Everyday Use, the author tells a story about conflicts between a small family. The plot entails a sibling rivalry between Dee and Maggie. The family has been separated for some time and is finally reunited, causing old issues to rise again. Everyday Use is written from the perspective of the Mom throughout the story. Because of this, the readers are able to know more into the family’s history and the daughter’s behaviors throughout their entire life. The author uses symbolism of common objects in the house to characterize each character and portray their emotions about family. In the beginning of the story, Mom emphasizes the need to clean up the yard before Dee comes home. She treats the yard as “an extended living room” …show more content…
The house itself has no windows, “just some holes cut in the side” (Walker). The yard is described as more comfortable than her own home, where she feels trapped and restrained. Mom describes herself as a “large, big-boned women with rough, man-working hands,” but in her reunion fantasy, she wants to be able to meet Dee’s expectations of her (Walker). Yet, in reality, she is uneducated and “mercilessly as a man” (Walker). The story also ends in the yard with Dee leaving the house scolding Mom and Maggie. After Dee leaves, Mom and Maggie continues to stay out in the yard “just enjoying, until it was time to go in the house” (Walker). The yard is portrayed as a very peaceful place where they can forget their troubles. It represents a safe place and freedom in a life of chaos and hardship for Mom. Another major importance in the story is the quilts. To Mom, who has personally contributed to making the quilts, it represents the heritage and the legacy of generations of family relationships. One of the quilts is “pieced …show more content…
Because she is able to have an education, she looks down on her Mom and Maggie and treats them with disrespect. It seems that Dee feels confined and restrained about their old house as Mom feels about the house. When the house burned down, Dee stands “off under the sweet gum tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in” (Walker). The house represents a life of imprisonment without freedom for Dee, so she hates that house enough to “dance around the ashes” (Walker). Education is her way of escaping that lifestyle. Though the house represents a bad life for her, “she never takes a shot without making sure the house is included” (Walker). However, it seems like Dee is never actually included in a picture with the house, only Mom and Maggie are pictured. This portrays that Dee does not want to be associated with the house and leaves her family to live her way, while Mom and Maggie still have an attachment to that house and are trapped in their way of life. The purpose of Dee’s trip back home is to take back with her the quilt that has been passed down in the family. While it seems that she appreciates the quilts by the way she describes them as “priceless,” she thinks of them as only decoration, without deeper meaning or emotions. When she finds out that the quilts are supposed to go to

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