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The Role of Family and Women in the Short Story Everyday Use by Alice Walker - Essay Example

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The Role of Family and Women in the Short Story Everyday Use by Alice Walker

For this to be possible, the author in her story employed powerful literary techniques resting upon concepts of setting, symbolism, and irony, which are important for any piece of literature. In the particular case of Walkers short story, this set of literary tools is combined to provide an examination of the role of family and women in society. In fact, Walker typically emphasizes in her works struggles of African American women who are shown in their opposition to racism and sexism, often in their violent manifestations, that are still present in the modern world. At the same time, she also often traces in her writings roles that women of color have played in history and culture, and ponders over their understanding of those roles (White 2005, pp.455-464). In this light, it would be even more interesting to take a closer look at how the ever urgent theme of the role of family and women in society is covered by the writer and the feminist activist Walker in this short story.
First of all, the plot of the story should be overviewed in order to understand what story line, setting, and characterization of the protagonists the author chose as the means to present and develop her ideas. The events in "Everyday Use" take place in the end of the sixties or the beginning of the seventies between members of an African-American family consisting of mother and her two daughters. In this regard, it is important to remember that this period of time was marked by widespread social debates about the need for African-Americans to redefine their personal and cultural identities. It was at that time that old terminology was being replaced by politically correct words, such as the substitution of the term Negro with black, and, correspondingly, new notions like black nationalism emerged. At that time many African-Americans rushed to find out about their African origin and cling to it instead of being defined solely by their past life in America that was rife with episodes of injustice and suffering (Van Deburg 1993). So, an attentive reader should from the very beginning of the story keep in mind the atmosphere that dominated in the American society during the time to which the narrative refers. The story itself is basically the account of an episode of life of the mentioned family which depicts the difficult and even strained relationship between a mother and children. The mother, named Mrs. Johnson, is living with one of her daughters Maggie, and is visited by her another daughter Dee along with her boyfriend or husband Hakim-a-barber. As Dee spends time with them, readers witness the open opposition between two sisters, and a latent opposition between Mrs. Johnson and Dee, which in the end breaks into Mrs. Johnsons protective support of Maggie. More specifically, as the stumbling block serves the bold striving of Dee to take away with her some family artifacts that are very dear for both Mrs. Johnson and Maggie. For ...Show more


One of the impressive qualities of literature is its ability to excite imagination of readers with the help of textual medium by vivid depiction of events and by finding a way to make readers feel with the characters of the books and stories as if reliving their experiences…
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The Role of Family and Women in the Short Story Everyday Use by Alice Walker essay example
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