Everyday Use by Alice Walker Book Review
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker demonstrates the conflict in understanding the knowledge of one’s heritage and the difference in Mama’s views between cultures. Mama reminisces on the past and things she wishes would come true while waiting for Dee. The relationship is rocky as Mama and Dee do not see eye to eye on specific topics. She did not understand Dee’s outlook of the world and wanting to be in it. The author presented the aspects of rural African American culture through Mama and Maggie and Dee’s urban African American culture. Mama’s culture shows the connection of the past, while Dee’s culture reveals success for African Americans in the future. Walker’s “Everyday Use” reflects Mama’s perspective on cultures from white, traditional rural to urban African American and links the past to remind the young generation to remember history’s importance.
White culture portrays the dominant force Mama, Dee, and Maggie is going against in the story with the Civil Rights Movement’s rise. Mama first mentions white culture when thinking about being on Johnny Carson’s television show with Dee to fix their relationship. She implies, “The child who has “made it” reunited with their parents with comfort. Mama compares how other families like her’s might come and argue throughout the show. She sees their families as perfect people with nothing wrong with them. Mama believes Dee wants her to be “ a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake.”(walker pp). She sees herself as a tough individual but reflects on Dee’s expectations. In the late 20s, African Americans rarely went against the dominant white majority. For instance, Mama would avoid them as she does not have as much power as them and lacks the confidence to look them in the eye. Education was hard to come by for African Americans in the past. Mama mentions how the schools shut down, but nobody had asked questions. The readers can suggest that black people did not want to be involved in the conflict.