In the short story, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the author presents a recurrent theme of conflict and struggle within African-American Culture, especially with the specific set of time. The specific element of this story that is most significant is characterization and symbolism, which Walker uses to express concern for the differences between these interpretations and uphold one of them, showing that heritage and culture affect the characters everyday life. An encounter used in “Everyday Use” which could be interpreted as two different approaches or interpretations of African-American Culture, takes place during Dee (One of the daughters of the narrator) returns to visit her mother (Narrator), and younger sister Maggie, “Everyday Use” focuses on this encounter between the Johnson Family, an argument over the family quilt, leaving the reader with abstract interpretations.
Characteristics like appearance, behavior, and decisions help to distinguish the characters of the story, yet walker uses the same characteristics to give the reader an abstract understanding of the theme.
The story is constantly involved on the characterizing of Dee, Maggie, and Mama. The first impression the reader is given of Maggie is her awkward looking appearance and shy nature, described by her mother remarks, “showing just enough of her thin enveloped in pink skirt and red blouse for me to know she’s there, almost hidden by the door” (pg 1126). However, Maggie is, like her mother, she honors the memory of her ancestors, she is the only daughter in the family who has learned how to quilt from her grandmother.
However that could be because of Maggie’s introverted nature as noted by Mama “she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (pg.1126). Mama then compares Wangara beauty to Maggie’s look, she says “Dee (Wangero) is lighter than…