Link to a PDF of the text of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker: Everyday Use
Contrast and Irony Used to Reveal Cultural Conflict
In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
A mother has two daughters. Fate has dealt them very different cards and choices have been made that have taken them down very different roads. Their characters have changed so much that they are almost not recognizable as sisters. Alice walker tells a story from a mother’s point of view of a visit from her daughter Dee, who moved away to go to school and comes to represent many qualities of another culture foreign to her heritage. These qualities are contrasted with her sister Maggie who has remained at home and represents many enduring qualities of her heritage. The mother represents a rich heritage available to both daughters, but embraced by only one, and cast aside by the other. Walker begins itemizing a list of traits that are associated with one culture; power, privilege, and racism, that are in contrast to another culture; true beauty, sincerity and respect. The contrast between the daughters represents much more than sibling rivalry. The contrast is between two rival world systems.
To read the complete review please see the page with the same title listed in the right hand side bar. It is a bit too long for my main blog and I like the page feature that keeps things in one permanent location.