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“Everyday Use”: Differences Between Mama and Her Daughters Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Aug 16th, 2022

In “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker presents the topic of one’s ancestors and traditional family and whether one should forget them when leaving home. To be more exact, the author focuses on the problem from the African-American people’s side. Walker (2020) discusses whether people after embracing African heritage can forget their African-American ancestors through implementing into her story three characters: Mrs. Johnson, Maggie, and Dicie.

To begin with, Walker (2020) presents three women from different perspectives, not with identical values or speech forms. For instance, the girls’ mother is more friendly, and she addresses the reader as you, “Have you ever seen a lame animal?” (Walker, 2020, para. 9). Furthermore, she seems honest and describes everything in vivid detail, sometimes in unnecessarily large amounts, “I never had an education myself. After second grade, the school was closed down” (Walker, 2020, para. 13). Overall, Maggie seems indeed similar to her mother, and they do share numerous identical features; however, Dicie is obviously more distant from her family and is similar to them neither in a language, nor in values.

Furthermore, the family’s values vary since Dicie is more focused on her career and prosperous future. To be more exact, she left her home to seek a better life with more comfortable conditions. In contrast, Maggie and her mother find their happiness in the family and respect their ancestors (Walker, 2020). In addition, Dicie is looking to change her name to forget about her African-American heritage. At the same time, Mrs. Johnson believes that this part of her daughter’s identity is more crucial than she realizes.

To sum up, Alice Walker proves that denying one’s heritage is wrong no matter how offensive it might be to one’s beliefs and ideas. Therefore, she attempts to contrast both points of view by creating three characters with entirely different values and even speech forms. Overall, the author explains a crucial topic to the reader by focusing not just on African-American people, but everyone in general.

Reference

Walker, A. (2020). Everyday use. Harper’s Magazine. Web.

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IvyPanda. "“Everyday Use”: Differences Between Mama and Her Daughters." August 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/everyday-use-differences-between-mama-and-her-daughters/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "“Everyday Use”: Differences Between Mama and Her Daughters." August 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/everyday-use-differences-between-mama-and-her-daughters/.

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