Changing Times in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

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Alice Walker’s Everyday Use and the Significance of Culture and Heritage

Alice Walker’s Everyday Use focusses on an African American family in the 1960s faced by changing times and a desire to maintain their African heritage. The author uses several devices to present the changing times and highlight the importance of culture and heritage. Symbolism is a major literary device especially with the quilts that were “pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee” (Walker, 320) to provide a connection between the present and the past. The passing of quilts from mother to daughter symbolizes the passing of culture and heritage from one generation to the next.

The Issue of Cultural Incompetence and Loss of Identity

Cultural incompetence is also highlighted showing that some of the people of African heritage faced the problem of a loss of identity, which is relatable in the society today. Dee changes her name to Wangero without realizing that she is taking on a different heritage claiming to be her own and emphasizes her lack of understanding of naming rights. Dee states, “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me” (Walker, 318). I believe this aspect can be traced to the society today and Walker was touching on a social issue that has taken root today. I believe the short story still makes sense in the society today and contains a lot of input for the current generation.

The Changing Times and Challenges Faced by Black Americans

The main focus on change, heritage, and culture of the novel highlights the changing times during the 1960s. The novel also serves as a reminder of the challenges the black Americans faced in the 1960s and addresses the role of women in the society. Mama is presented as a single woman who struggles to raise her children. She is sated as a “large big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (Walker, 315) a treatment that the period largely affected women, especially those raising children on their own. I believe these issues are still evident in the society today, especially in regards to the black Americans who are still faced by poverty, low education levels, crime, and poor socioeconomic status.

Work Cited

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Rutgers University Press, 1994. Web.

November 24, 2023


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