Thesis Statement For Maggie In Everyday Use

Essay on The Importance of Heritage in "Everyday Use"

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In “Everyday Use ” by Alice Walker the exact setting is never revealed and therefore, can only be guessed, but it has been guessed that the story takes place on a country side in Georgia. At one point in the story Augusta is mentioned. The time is also estimated to be during the Civil Rights Movement around the year of 1973. Mrs. Johnson, along with her two daughters, reside in a small three room house, and take pride in there small yard. As Maggie and Dee grow older they start to realize how important their heritage, and family heirlooms are, Maggie in particular. Maggie has made her mother promise to give her the quilts when she becomes old enough. However, Dee wants to hang the quilts up so they can be admired as if they are…show more content…

She is beautiful, confident and comes across as insensitive and arrogant. Dee argues with her mother that she wants the family quilts that had been tucked away in a chest. The ones her mother had promised to her younger sister Maggie. Dee tells her mother that Maggie is naïve enough to put their precious family heirlooms to “everyday use”, (www.enotes.com) when she knew they belonged in a special showcase for people to see. Maggie was always the quiet type who preferred to be at home. Maggie “is a figure of purity, uncorrupted by selfishness or complex emotional needs” (www.sparknotes.com) who wishes to be untouched by the outside world. The family quilts that Maggie were supposed to inherit were used as symbolism in the story. The quilts symbolize the “bonds between women of different generations and their enduring legacy”,(www.enotes.com) and “culture and heritage”. (www.suite101.com) Maggie understands the history and relationship tied into each and every quilt whereas Dee does not. Maggie and her mama think the quilts “are pieces of living history, documents in fabric that chronicle the lives of the various generations and trials”. Mama treasures these quilts because she considers them “personal history, one of her few treasures”. Maggie knows the quilts are crafts from her grandmother, and that there is no way to set a financial amount to their worth. The yard also carries symbolism. It symbolizes a private places where

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I like pohnpei397's reply. The daughter who returns home in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," and the man she brings with her, indeed respresent a newly forged cultural identity for African Americans that is very much at odd with the conventional identities, as reflected in both the mother and the stay-at-home daughter.

A second (and related) possible thesis for this story focuses on the idea of "reader response": every reader will read the story...

I like pohnpei397's reply. The daughter who returns home in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," and the man she brings with her, indeed respresent a newly forged cultural identity for African Americans that is very much at odd with the conventional identities, as reflected in both the mother and the stay-at-home daughter.

A second (and related) possible thesis for this story focuses on the idea of "reader response": every reader will read the story in a slightly different way because of that reader's individual background, values, political commitments, and so on. The story does prompt us, of course, to identify more closely with some of the characters than with the others; for example, the mother is the narrator in the story, which makes most readers initially identify more closely with her than with any of the other characters. Some readers will follow these prompts while other readers -- who are sometimes called "resistant readers" -- will not.

"Everyday Use," then, can be seen as a story that will probably be read very differently by different readers. While I teach in Mississippi, for example, I am not from that state, and I have great respect for the artists and thinkers of the Black Arts Era, including Alice Walker, who sought to make breaks with the past and to challenge, among other things, white standards of beauty and ideas of history. I also believe in the value of leaving home for extended periods, growing to be a highly independent person, and returning home a changed person who is then able to sift through the past and choose what to keep and what not to keep. Thus, while my Southern, very family-centered, and very place-bound students almost invariably identify with the position of Maggie and her mother (and often share, for example, in the mother's mockery of the Africa- and Islam-inspired names that the two visitors have adopted), I find the two visitors much more interesting and inspiring. I would even go so far as to say that the author Alice Walker is much more like Dee than she is like Maggie.

In the end, for me, the point is not that one reader is right and the other is wrong. Rather, the point is that we, as different readers, can react differently to the same prompts in the story and end up with very different readings of the same text. The particular readings that we end up with, in fact, often say as much about who we are as readers as they say about the text that we have been reading.

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