Everyday Use by Alice Walker Analysis

  • Category: Literature,
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 398
  • Published: 02 May 2021
  • Copied: 103


“Everyday Use” takes place at Dee’s and Maggie’s mothers house. “A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know”(1).  The mother adores her home and considers it to be the most stunning thing she has ever seen. Since her home is so big, she refers to her backyard as an additional living space. The story begins with Dee's mother envious of her and pleading with her to acknowledge her. However, Dee is ungrateful and does not acknowledge her mother. The setting is significant to the story because it sets the tone. It shows what Dee is like and what Maggie is like. The way the mother compares the two sisters impacts the story. For instance, “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure”(2). This impacts the story because Maggie is always under Dee’s shadow and is trying to impress her mom. However, when the author starts to describe Dee, the story starts to change. Describing Dee changes the tone of the story and also changes where the story is heading. 

The next literal element is the point of view of the characters. The point of view is coming from the mother, because she uses things like my daughter. The mother also describes her children in the story. For example, “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe.” “She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her”(1). This reveals that Dee has gotten everything she desires, though Maggie remains shy and in Dee's shadow. Dee's mother is even more envious of her because she has always been the smartest in the family. Maggie has a stronger emotional bond to her roots than Dee, as the mother discovers later. The point of view influences the story by helping the reader understand why the mother gave the quilt to Maggie. 

The final literal element is character reliability. The author explains the characters' behavior in the story, revealing their true characteristics by contrasting the more emotional sister with the selfish sister. The author uses Dee finding the quilts to show that her mother has seen how ungrateful Dee is. Maggie receives the quilts from their mother so she can take better care of them and enjoy them more. The author is demonstrating that Maggie's mother now sees and appreciates her.