This essay sample essay on Everyday Use Analysis offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion are provided below.

“A & P” and “Everyday Use” Analysis and Comparison In a modern society where good deeds and integrity are taken for granted, it is necessary for people to stand up for what is right. The short story “A & P”, written by John Updike, tells the story of Sammy and how he takes a stand for what he believes is right, only he is not given the gratitude he deserved.

“Everyday Use”, written by Alice Walker, is another short story that shows how substantial it is to stand firm for one’s convictions and beliefs, especially in familial matters.

Mama, the protagonist in “Everyday Use”, must make the decision of protecting her self-conscious daughter Maggie, or giving in to Dee, her other egocentric daughter who has forgotten the traditional values of their family.

These two short stories indicate the importance of protecting people from the harshness of reality because not everyone is secure or aware enough to be able to stand up for themselves. Although one’s good deeds may often not be acknowledged, the inevitable lesson of maturity can be taught through such experiences. In “A&P”, Sammy is a teenage clerk who is not acknowledged for accomplishing what he thinks is a good deed.

Why Does Sammy Quit His Job In A&p

During a hot day, three teenage girls walks into the A&P grocery store, wearing only their bathing suits.

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The image of the girl’s revealing attire provides an absolute contrast to both the simple interior of the store and also of the other conservative customers. Sammy describes the customers as “sheeps” because they look mindless as they follow each other around the aisles in continual, constant motion. However, these three girls conflict with the imagery of “sheeps” by breaking the norms of what the A&P grocery store, and society in general, has proclaimed as acceptable.

These three girls symbolize the reverse of what Sammy has been accustomed to seeing in the store, which are the pedestrian and conformed customers. Infrequency rather than frequency triggers the events that occur in the A&P grocery store. The sexually appealing nature of the girls provokes Sammy’s carnal appetite and engenders rebellious feelings towards conformity as well. This allows him to realize that his life has been tailored to that of the mundane lives of the other A&P employees and customers.

However, this epiphany leads Sammy to act impulsively when the girls are being admonished for their revealing attire by Lengel. Lengel, the conventional and austere store manager, further embodies the conformity that surrounds Sammy as Lengel reprimands the girls for wearing bathing suits in a grocery store. As Sammy sees his manager embarrassing the girls, Sammy has the choice of being a “sheep” or breaking out of the conformed structure of the A&P store, such as the girls has done. Sammy is refreshed by the uniqueness the girls bring, and he also wants to be part of that.

This shows that he wants to protect what the girls and what they represent, which is contrast to conformity. Sammy ultimately decides to defend the girls’ honor by quitting his job, and thus makes the statement of not being a “sheep” that is mindlessly led by society. Although this decision was driven partly by carnal feelings, it was primarily out of impulse and curiosity of what lies beyond the restricted borders of normalcy in the A&P grocery store. Even though Sammy quit his job for the girls, they do not even acknowledge his act of sacrifice.

Sammy is still given a chance by Lengel to reconsider his rash decision, but he continues to stands firm for what he believes in, even after the girls have already left the store. Sammy then walks out of the A&P with no job and no display of affection or gratitude from the girls. Sammy has sacrificed his job for people who don’t care, and the harsh reality of sacrificing for people who do not care results in the compromise of self security. A&P is a story about coming to age, and Sammy comes to age as he attempts to seek for something better than what the A&P store can offer him.

Teenagers often act impulsively and recklessly, and as a teenage boy Sammy can not help but be intrigued by what the girls symbolized, which contrast to conformity. Despite his losses, Sammy gains something as well. He realizes that he should be more in control of his feelings and that he should make decisions maturely and as an adult, not as an adolescent who acts out of impulsion and dispositions. Nonetheless, Sammy still stood up for what he believed was right at that moment, and that has caused him to mature and grow. Standing up for what is right is not an easy task, but it is necessary to protect those who can not defend themselves. Everyday Use” is about Mama and her decision to choose sentimental values over materialism. Dee is the educated yet selfish sister of Maggie, who is self conscious and withdrawn because she had been scarred by a house fire. After a very long time, Dee returns to her home in search of materialistic goods so that she can preserve her family’s heritage by turning their culture into a commodity. Dee believes that possessing items with traditional value will allow her to understand her cultural heritage, and this symbolizes her misconception of viewing heritage as a material entity.

However, Mama and Maggie clearly defines family and cultural heritage through their knowledge of everyday traditional practices, such as churning butter and quilting. Maggie and Dee are sisters, but they are like the two ends of a stick. Although they have been brought up in the same home and raised by the same mother, this is as far as their similarities go. The contrast of the two sister’s personalities creates a conflict because Dee is unable to comprehend that there is more than just material values in objects, while Maggie is able to fully fathom the significance of sentimentality.

However, Maggie’s unsteady and delicate temperament prevents her from stopping her sister as Dee seeks out items of cultural value. This shows that Dee attempts to seek out her heritage without an understanding of what her heritage truly is. Maggie and Mama are able to comprehend and truly appreciate the cultural and sentimental values of the objects in their home because that is where their heritage lies, whereas Dee lives in the materialistic world, not the traditional.

Dee later disapproves of how her mother and sister are ruining Maggie’s traditional wedding quilt by putting it through “everyday use” and that they are using it as nothing more than a mere commodity. This shows Dee’s misconception of heritage as a materialistic object. Dee scorns her sister because Maggie will not be able to appreciate the quilt in a sufficient way. Maggie is used to giving in to her sister and agrees to give Dee the wedding quilts, despite what the quilts has meant to Maggie. Maggie’s burned skin indicates how she has been “burned” throughout her life, and as a result Maggie is used to not having what she wants.

However, Mama is able to relate more with Maggie than she can with Dee. Mama and Maggie both appreciate the true meaning of heritage and Mama surprises even herself as she stands up for Maggie and by defying Dee. Part of their heritage is for the mother to pass down objects of cultural value, such as quilts, to their daughter. As Mama stands up for Maggie and returns her the quilts, she asserts that Maggie wins over Dee, and that cultural values are dominant over materialistic values. This short story shows how important it is to take a tand for what is right, especially when a person is able to do so themselves. Maggie was unable to stop her self centered sister, so Mama stopped Dee herself. Dee has everything that she has ever wanted, everything except the heritage of her family. Mama and Maggie have nothing but heritage, and therefore Mama is able to stand up for Maggie because of this connection. It is evident that it is important to stand up for those who are unaware and unable to stand up for themselves. In “A&P”, Sammy indicates that people should not have to conform to the rules of society.

The girls broke out of the societal norms, and Sammy was refreshed to see such uniqueness. As a result, Sammy quits his job to express his dissatisfaction towards conformity. Although he was not acknowledged for his sacrifice, he matured and gained a valuable lesson despite of his losses. Sammy learned that he should think before reacting to his desires and impulses, and that lesson is much more valuable than catching the attention of some girl In “Everyday Use”, Maggie was unable to resist her self centered sister as she took the quilts.

However, Dee misconceived the true value of heritage. Objects of cultural value are meant for everyday use, not to be displayed as a decorational trophy. People are able to keep memories and the past alive by putting such objects to everyday use, such as Mama and Maggie have rightly done. Both of these short stories express the importance of standing up for what is right, regardless that one’s action may go unnoticed or that one may be faced with the difficult decision of choosing one daughter over the other.


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Everyday Use Analysis. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Everyday Use Analysis
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