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Everyday Use Comparison Essays

"Everyday Use" By Alice Walker Comparison Of The Values Held By The Three Main Characters

In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker the family quilt is used as a symbol of the values that each family member holds dear. To Maggie the quilt is just another thing she has to give up. To Dee the quilt is a symbol of rising above her poor past. To their mother the quilt is symbolic of the roots of her family.

The oldest daughter, Dee values her friend's approval. While she is growing up she doesn't have many friends. In fact when her mother mentions this, Maggie makes the comment, "Mama, when did Dee ever have any friends?" (91) Now that Dee has made some friends at school she wants to impress them by displaying her African heritage. This is obvious by the clothing she wears, from her traditional African dress, which is long and bright yellow and orange, to her gold earrings and dangling bracelets. Even her hair is styled in an ethnic hairstyle. Dee has chosen a new African name, Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, and greets her family using a Black Muslim greeting. These are the type of things that black women in the 70's commonly did as a way of contributing in some small way to the civil rights movement. She rejects her family name because she doesn't like "being named after the people who oppress me." (92) She wants to have the family artifacts as a way of showing off to, and fitting in with, her new friends. When her mother asks her what she will do with the quilts Dee replies, "Hang them." (94) To which her mother comments, "as if that was the only thing you could do with quilts." (94) Dee has made a better life for herself and wants her friends to see how far she has risen above her past.

In contrast to Dee, Maggie does not covet anything in the house. In fact, when Dee and her mother are discussing the quilts, Maggie comments, "She can have them, Mama," (94) and the narrator adds, "like somebody used to never winning anything or having anything reserved for her." (94) Maggie sees the quilts as a gift she can give her sister to help win her sister's approval. Maggie is a neglected child who is starved for the love and attention of her mother and sister. The mother comments that when Maggie first...

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Sameer Bhavnani

Professor Bachmann

English 39 - Film Literature

3 - 25 - 04

Everyday UseOvich

Alice Walker wrote a short story called "Everyday Use," based on her life as an African in early America. The story was made into a short film that followed the theme (African-American culture) of the story by keeping the plot, settings, conflict/climax, and characters the same. However, the story and short film differ in dialogue and point of view.

"Everyday Use," short film was more story oriented as it showed what Mama only described in the text: "Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe." (WALKER 120) Mama was explaining how Maggie would feel when Dee comes to visit. In the movie, viewers had to wait and see until Dee's arrival to see Maggie's reactions, it wasn't told by Mama, but rather interpreted on screen by a moving image.

This was done by changing the point of view from first person to third person. The movie did have a voice over by Mama as Maggie and herself raked the leaves before Dee's arrival, but that was not the same as the story, as the dialog in the story starts on the day Dee arrives but talks about what they did the day before: "I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon."(WALKER 120) Mama is talking about what she did the day before, but in the movie she was shown doing it.

The reason for such a perspective change only makes sense, for scenes such as Mama and Dee arguing while Maggie is...