Everyday Use Research Paper Topics

+ All Everyday Use Essays:

  • Mother-Daughter Relationship in "Seventeen Syllables" and "Everyday Use"
  • Symbolic References in Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Value the Intangible in Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • The Themes and Narration Techniques of Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • A&P and Everyday Use Comparison
  • The Usability of Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use
  • Alice Walker’s Short Story Everyday Use
  • A & P and Everyday Use Analysis and Comparison
  • Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Maggie Character Analysis from "Everyday Use"
  • Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”
  • Adopted Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use
  • Use Of Paralanguage And Kinesics In Everyday Life
  • Difference of Two Sisters in “Everyday Use”
  • Essay on Everyday Use, Daffodils, and The Glass Menagerie
  • Point of View in Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Comparisons of Maggie of "Everyday Use" and Laura of "The Glass Menagerie"
  • Compare and Contrast of “Sonny’s Blues” and “Everyday Use”
  • Analysis of Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Everyday Use: A Mother's Choice
  • Everyday Use, A Character Analysis of Dee
  • Conflict of Characters in Alice Walker's Everyday Use
  • Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Alice Walker's Everyday Use
  • Theme of Heritage in Walker's Everyday Use
  • Essay on Appearance vs Reality in Everyday Use and The Gilded Six-Bits
  • Character Analysis of Dee Johnson in Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Everyday Use by Alice Walker: How to Appreciate One’s Culture
  • Comparing Culture in Everyday Use, A&P, and Blue Winds Dancing
  • Analysis of Patches: Quilt and Community in Alice Walker's Everyday Use
  • An Analysis of Alice Walker's "everyday Use"
  • Rejecting Heritage: Wangero's Greed Illustrated in Walker's, Everyday Use
  • Comparing Maggie and Dee in Everyday Use by Alice Walker
  • Misfortunes of Dreams in Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
  • Point of View in Alice Walker's Everyday Use
  • Message of Family Heritage in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"
  • Situational and Dramatic Irony in Story of an Hour, Everyday Use, The Necklace, and The Lottery
  • Similar Themes in A Rose for Emily, The Garden Party, and Everyday Use
  • Past and Present Connections: Alice Walker’s Use of First Person Point of View in “Everyday Use”
  • Same Theme, Different Development in of Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker’s The Legacy and Everyday Use
  • The Dangerous Everyday
  • Sociology in Everyday Life
  • Maths in Everyday Life
  • Fallacies Found in Everyday Language
  • Religion in Everyday Life
  • Mathematics in Everyday Life
  • Our Everyday Idol
  • Robots: Our Everyday Usage
  • Everyday Decisions
  • Communication Theories in Everyday Life
  • Sports in Everyday Life
  • Usefullness of Mathematics in Everyday Life
  • Consumption and Everyday Life
  • Physics in Everyday Life
  • Media Models In Everyday Life
  • Probability in Everyday Life and in The Game Industry
  • Superior Supermarkets. “Everyday Low Pricing”
  • Ancient History Minoans Everyday Life
  • Far Beyond Everyday Superstitions
  • Everyday Life in Puerto Rico
  • ‘Everyday Creativity Is Always Dialogical in Bakhtin’s Sense’.
  • Provide Support to Maintain and Develop Skills for Everyday Life
  • Gender Bias in Everyday Life
  • Contracts: How They Effect Everyday Life
  • Philosophy is Relevant to Everyday Life
  • What Is Psychology and How Is It Important in Our Everyday Life
  • The Effect of Social Organization on Everyday Life and Health
  • The Impact of Globalization on Everyday Life
  • The Actual Usage of Visions and Values in Everyday Leadership
  • Everyday, Many Face the Issues They Have with Their Ethnic Identity
  • Algebra in the Real World and Everyday Life. Essay
  • The Relevance of Logic in Our Everyday Lives
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman
  • Cell Phones have become a Part of Everyday Life
  • Impact of Scientific Innovations on Everyday Life
  • Uses of Chemistry
  • Analytical analysis and comparism of an everyday text with a literary text
  • Everyday Life during the Elizabethan Era
  • Economic Guide to Everyday Life Decisions
  • Comparing Homer's Odyssey and Everyday Life

            In her short story “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker takes up what is a recurrent theme in her work: the representation of the harmony as well as the conflicts and struggles within African-American culture. “Everyday Use” focuses on an encounter between members of the rural Johnson family. This encounter––which takes place when Dee (the only member of the family to receive a formal education) and her male companion return to visit Dee’s mother and younger sister Maggie––is essentially an encounter between two different interpretations of, or approaches to, African-American culture.  Walker employs characterization and symbolism to highlight the difference between these interpretations and ultimately to uphold one of them, showing that culture and heritage are parts of daily life.
            The opening of the story is largely involved in characterizing Mrs. Johnson, Dee’s mother and the story’s narrator. More specifically, Mrs. Johnson’s language points to a certain relationship between herself and her physical surroundings: she waits for Dee “in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy” (88). The emphasis on the physical characteristics of the yard, the pleasure in it manifested by the word “so,” points to the attachment that she and Maggie have to their home and to the everyday practice of their lives. The yard, in fact, is “not just a yard. It is like an extended living room” (71), confirming that it exists for her not only as an object of property, but also as the place of her life, as a sort of expression of herself. Her description of herself likewise shows a familiarity and comfort with her surroundings and with herself: she is “a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (72)—in other words, she knows the reality of her body and accepts it, even finding comfort (both physical and psychological) in the way that her “fat keeps [her] hot in zero weather” (72). Mrs. Johnson is fundamentally at home with herself; she accepts who she is, and thus, Walker implies, where she stands in relation to her culture.
            Mrs. Johnson’s daughter Maggie is described as rather unattractive and shy: the scars she bears on her body have likewise scarred her soul, and, as a result, she is retiring, even frightened. Mrs. Johnson admits, in a loving manner, that “like good looks and money, quickness passed her by” (73). She “stumbles” as she reads, but clearly Mrs. Johnson thinks of her as a sweet person, a daughter with whom she can sing songs at church. Most importantly, however, Maggie is, like her mother, at home in her traditions, and she honors the memory of her ancestors; for example, she is the daughter in the family who has learned how to quilt from her grandmother.
Dee, however, is virtually Maggie’s opposite. She is characterized by good looks, ambition, and education (Mrs. Johnson, we are told, collects money at her church so that Dee can attend school). Dee’s education has been extremely important in forging her character, but at the same time it has split her off from her family. Mamma says, “She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice” (73). Dee, in other words, has moved towards other traditions that go against the traditions and heritage of her own family: she is on a quest to link herself to her African roots and has changed her name to WangeroLeewanikaKemanjo. In doing so, in attempting to recover her “ancient” roots, she has at the same time denied, or at least refused to accept, her more immediate heritage, the heritage that her mother and sister share.
            The actions Walker’s characters take, as well as their physical attributes, are symbolic of their relation to their culture. Dee’s male companion, for example, has taken a Muslim name and now refuses to eat pork and collard greens, thus refusing to take part in the traditional African-American culture. Mrs. Johnson, meanwhile, has “man-working hands” and can “kill a hog as mercilessly as a man” (72); clearly this detail is meant to indicate a rough life, with great exposure to work. Symbolic meaning can also be found in Maggie’s skin: her scars are literally the inscriptions upon her body of the ruthless journey of life. Most obviously—and most importantly—the quilts that Mrs. Johnson has promised to give Maggie when she marries are highly symbolic, representing the Johnsons’ traditions and cultural heritage. These quilts were “pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee “(76), both figures in family history who, unlike the present Dee, took charge in teaching their culture and heritage to their offspring. The quilts themselves are made up of fragments of history, of scraps of dresses, shirts, and uniforms, each of which represents those people who forged the family’s culture, its heritage, and its values.
            Most importantly, however, these fragments of the past are not simply representations in the sense of art objects; they are not removed from daily life. What is most crucial about these quilts—and what Dee does not understand—is that they are made up of  daily life, from materials that were lived in. This, in essence, is the central point of “Everyday Use”: that the cultivation and maintenance of its heritage are necessary to each social group’s self-identification, but that also this process, in order to succeed, to be real, must be part of people’s use every day. After all, what is culture but what is home to us, just as Mrs. Johnson’s yard is home to her.

Work Cited

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed.       X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 8th ed. New York: Longman, 2002. 88-95.

—Juan R. Velazquez 

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