The Short Story 'Every Use' By Alice Walker
In 1967, Alice married a Jewish civil rights attorney, Melvyn Leventhal making them the first legally interracial couple to marry in Mississippi. After enduring threats and harassment by the KKK, the couple had their first child in 1969 and divorced in 1976 (Adams et al.). Alice Walker’s creative writing style uses symbolism, culture, and heritage; as well as, giving a voice to the oppressed black women. Her highly acclaimed short story “Every Use,” was published in her 1973 collection, Love and Trouble. The story is about a black mother (Mama) and her two daughters from a rural part of Georgia. The setting takes place in the late 1960’s early 1970s, during the Civil Right Movement, during a time blacks were undergoing a radical transformation. The major quarrel in the story appears to be over which daughter will get the quilts that symbolizes family and tradition. However, there is more to this story than the quilts. Therefore, it is essential to point-out, Mama is the narrator of the story as well as, there is no mention of a Mr. Johnson in the …show more content…
Maggie does not have the looks or brains like Dee; she does have the traditional skilled that Mama and the rest of family had. Such as quilting something Dee never learned to do because she wanted more out of life. Maggie is Dee’s youngest sister who was severely burned in a house fire several years ago. And Dee said, Mama,
Just stood there standing off under the sweet gum tree… with a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board fall in toward the red-hot brick chimney… she hated the house that much (Walker).
Mama then hints, that maybe Dee had something to do with the fire that left Maggie disabled and walking with a limp.
Several critics have pointed out how Mama describes herself and Maggie as victims, and Dee as a selfish, insensitive person. According to Wayne Booth, author of The Rhetoric of Fiction, explains that “the fact that Mrs. Johnson is both narrator and character … has a powerful effect on our perception of Dee” (Booth). It is fair to say that Mama and Maggie’s characters do make you feel sympathy for them; however, I’m sure no one wants to be them if they had a