Everyday Use Symbolism Essay

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In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” the use of symbolism is an effective tactic. The most obvious symbol is the two quilts, which the central characters Dee and Maggie both want as their own. The narrator, who is also Dee and Maggie’s mother, has an interesting dilemma on her hands. She must choose which daughter is deserving of inheriting the two quilts. The two quilts were pieced together by Grandma Dee and Big Dee, the narrator’s mother and sister, and made with the scraps from the dresses of Grandma Dee and bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s shirts and Great Grandpa Ezra’s faded blue piece from the uniform he wore in the Civil War. The mother must decipher which daughter is deserving of the quilts based on her daughter’s plans of use. Dee in the story planned to…show more content…
It is obvious that Dee (Wangero) does not understand the importance of her family heritage. But her actions are contradictory when she, her mother, her boyfriend, and her sister Maggie sit to eat dinner. While at the table, Dee’s boyfriend, whom one can assume is Muslim, steered clear of the collard greens and pork. “Wangero, though, went on through the chitins and corn bread, the greens and everything else” (Kirszner and Mandell 316). This action by Dee may be determined to merely be a ploy to persuade her mother to give her the family-knitted quilts. Both of these stories utilize symbolism effective to convey interesting topics. In “The Lottery” the black box in which the men, women and children of the town draw pieces of paper from symbolizes the clashing of old tradition and modernization. And in “Everyday Use” the two quilts symbolize family lineage and the importance of paying homage. As well, the significance of someone changing their name can be interpreted as turning one’s back on their family heritage. Both stories deal with the significance of tradition and modernization, the old and the
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