“Everyday use” by Alice Walker
The publication ‘Everyday use’ is one that relates the story to the life of the author. The author uses her environment and personal experiences to convey various messages in her publication (Walker, 22). The author is a black woman who grew up during the era of racism. She grew up in one of the rural areas of America. Her parents are peasant farmers and have to survive with the little they get. The author uses this setting in her book. In the book, the setting is of a family that lives in poor conditions. She describes their house as one made of a tin roof with small openings acting as the window. Moreover, the windows are from the sides of their house in a non-definite way. Moreover, she talks of a family composed of blacks to relate with her personal experience. The similarities of both settings portray the existing relationship between the author’s life and the story.
Moreover, the discussion of tradition in the author’s publication relates to an aspect of her life. While growing up, her parents struggle to rebel against certain beliefs and traditions that were of no benefit. For example, her father defies the perception that black children should work in the white’s plantations as opposed to attending school. Her father struggles his way out and ensures that all his children go to school. Likewise, the author forwards the idea of defying destructive traditions to her literature piece. Mama, who is the narrator in the book, is an independent and strong single mother (Walker, 25). Being an anti-feminist, the author shows the ability of a woman in bringing up a family by her self. This indicates the author’s rebellion of traditions that are outdated.
Additionally, the author assigns various attributes to her characters. According to the book, Maggie who is the second daughter in the family follows the traditions of her environment. Contrary, he elder sister, Dee is modernized extrovert. The author portrays Dee as a person who does not mind stepping on people’s toes to get what she wants. According to the story, Dee is ashamed of her poor background and believes she deserves more. She feels superior to the rest of her family members due her higher education level and her beauty. The use of tradition in her writing shows how much the author values tradition. Moreover, it also describes the author as one who is opposed to adoption of traditions that add no value to one’s life. As a person, the author balances both traditions and modernization (Dieke, 79). This is similar to the story setting. The author addresses both tradition and modernization through the life of her characters in the book.
Additionally, the author portrays the different characteristics of children in a family. While growing up, one of her brothers shot the author in the eye. The loss of her eye made her develop a shy and self-conscious character .She felt less beautiful and inferior due to her condition (Walker, 30). Her experience relates to the theme of superiority that she reveals in her book. In the story, Dee is a girl who is beautiful, intelligent and talented. Consequently, she feels superior than her younger sister, Maggie. On the hand, the author portrays Maggie as a girl who is traditional, less intelligent and less beautiful. Moreover, similar to the author’s experience’ Maggie is involved in an accident where her house burns down. In addition to her sister’s constant talk of superiority, this tragedy makes her feel inferior and less valuable (Bloom, 45). This scenario is similar to that in the author’s life.
Furthermore, the author creates Dee as a character to contract her personal life and values. Unlike the author, Dee values material possessions more than her relations with her family. This is evident when she is full of joy upon learning that their shanty had burnt down. Instead of being sad for the loss of their only home, she is happy that there will be no more evidence of their poor living conditions. She feels that her high education level and beauty deserve more than the poverty she lived in. According to the book, it is evident that Dee’s obsession for riches and a good life have turned her into an arrogant and inconsiderate person (Dieke, 99). The description of Dee in the book is contrary to the personality of the author. The author is one who values her family and other people. This is evident when she decides to cover for her brother’s action of stabbing her in the eye. Though the brother did it knowingly, she did not want him to get into trouble with her father hence decided to keep the whole ordeal a secret (Bloom, 55).
In addition, the author describes how one’s decisions influence their relationships with other people. The author accomplishes this by the use of contract between Dee and the author’s character. As a renowned activist and writer, the author believes that our choices affect our relationships. This thought is evident in her literature piece. In the book, Maggie lets her scars that she acquired after her house burnt down get in the way of her life. Similar to the author’s experience, she becomes shy and feels inferior. Moreover, she blocked any suitors from her life. On the other hand, Dee feels superior to everyone else and believes she is the most beautiful and intelligent person around (Bloom, 46). The author portrays that people with similar upbringings may choose different paths in life. In conclusion, the characters and settings in the book relate to the author’s life experiences.
Bloom, Harold. Alice Walker. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2007. Print.
Dieke, Ikenna. Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1999. Print.
Walker, Alice, and Barbara Christian. Everyday Use. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 1994. Print.