In 1972, Alice Walker published “Everyday Use” in a collection of short stories In Love and Problem: Stories of Black women. As much better known “Everyday Use” stuck out of the collection, it has become one of couple of short stories about the dispute black Americans faced after the Civil Rights Motion; The battle to keep traditions, whilst welcoming new-found flexibility, and where the two worlds collided. Going over the reoccurring themes, symbols and concepts through the narrator’s perception, and actions will reveal if the character, and ultimately the reader himself has grown or remained static in affect of the dispute.
As stated above, once the Civil Rights motion ended and black Americans got the rights equal to a white American, a dispute between the vintage and the brand-new world clashed. The assimilation of black Americans into the American way of living, the struggle to support customs, and the quest to go back to original African culture is a style in “Everyday Use”. The storyteller’s, “Mother”, perception of the world is little, in contrast to her daughter’s, “Dee”. When Dee returns, she has attempted to re-forge her African based culture and dismiss her history and “The people who oppress me” (Walker 454).
She shows up bejeweled in gold, showing off a flashy yellow African design dress, together with her assumed sweetheart “Asalamalikim”. The ignorance of Mother of this being a term in Arabic significance “Peace be upon you” (Anthology 454), which instead she errors as his name, displays the differentiation between Mom and Dee’s direct exposure to the world. The way in which she picked to style herself radiates the truth that she has no genuine understanding of African culture, and she is in favor of the American simulated construction of African culture.
The quilts become a symbol of the collaboration of their family histories into tangible proof in “Everyday Use”, when Dee returns to the house for quilts and the sculpted dasher, proposing to hang them up for display screen. This upsets the Narrator, Mom, she refers to Maggie being able to put them to everyday use, and she can constantly quilt more; while Dee adamantly demonstrations. Mom makes a relocation to recuperate the quilts and Dee pulls them away and Mama believes to herself “They currently came from her” (Walker 456).
In Mother’s point of view, the point of the quilts was the custom of quilting, not the quilts themselves. She sees Dee as someone to wants to act out the movements of gratitude of their culture, instead of passing it on. In the act of retrieving the quilts from Dee’s grip, and returning them to Maggie, Mother exposes herself as an unknowing, round character that can re-act differently than what is anticipated of her. Mom stands up for the real traditions in the face of her daughter, although her child believes herself to be the all knowing one.
In addition to the style of old black world verses brand-new, we encounter the motif of names and re-naming within the narrative. Just as Dee gets home worn African styled clothes, she re-names herself “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” to represent her full improvement into a true African female. Her boyfriend’s name “Hakim. a. barber” also hints to the truth that he also took up the Muslim faith in an effort of reform. Mama makes an effort to educate Dee on her name; how it was passed through generations and holds value in itself.
Dee dismisses this truth, and it exposes Dees ignorance of the family tree of strong ladies she was born from. Dee and Hakim attempt to conceal or dissolve their actual history with the history that is more in favor with present society and hold no value in their true identities. In this circumstances, Dee can be represented as the round character, ever changing to fit her environments; while Mother and Maggie, the previous who does not reveal their name, and the latter who has a typical name, can be represented as the flat characters.
However, this can be contradicted. In the beginning of the story, Mamas understanding of Dee is somewhat tainted by her individual differences from Dee. The truth that Mama was not able to finish her education totally, while still providing an education for her child functioned as a wedge in between the 2. Dee towered above mom for her lack of education, and Mom felt preyed on by Dee’s frustrating need to prove her greater intelligence. For example, Dee’s greeting “Wa-su-zo-Tean-o! (Walker 454), a term which her mother and Maggie she understood could not comprehend. In outcome, she always presumed Dees word to be real and unworthy of contradiction. Nevertheless, in the end of the story, Mama realizes that despite the fact that Dee might have a higher education and for that reason direct exposure to the world, she still did not discover the worth of the her true heritage. Something that can not be learned through school work, and can not be appreciated through research study, was the legacy of her ancestors, something Dee adamantly dismissed as unimportant.
Mother then becomes a round character, than can overcome the overshadow of her child and prove that all the education worldwide can not assist keep culture alive, and only family along with true customs can have that impact. In paradox, Dee states that it is Mother that understands nothing of their heritage, when it remains in truth Dee who has lost all sense of their sincere history. We can now conclude that the Storyteller, “Mom” is an unknowing character by her reactions to the villain “Dee”, Mom’s actions were made based off her previous as well as current encounters with Dee.
She is in a sense a round character; that conquers her impertinent daughter’s abhorrence of the word “No”, and stays with old customs. While likewise, Mom is a flat character, enduring the direct exposure to Dee’s education to start and end the short story in her yard, where she finds peace and control over her environment. “Daily Use” did an exceptional task in portraying the collision of black American liberty, and the custom-mades of those that lived before the days of civil rights.