- Term Papers and Free Essays

Theme Analysis Of "Everyday Use"

Essay by   •  May 1, 2011  •  726 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,046 Views

Essay Preview: Theme Analysis Of "Everyday Use"

Report this essay
Page 1 of 3

"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker is a short story about a mother and her two daughters who have different views on life and their culture. When Dee returns home from college, she tries to force Mama and Maggie into a more complex lifestyle than they are living. By the end of the story, Mama and Maggie try to prove to Dee that no matter how hard she tries to change who she is; she will never change where she came from. Like any story, "Everyday Use" has multiple themes. A few of the major themes are generational conflict, culture or heritage, and denial.

Generational conflict is a major theme in "Everyday Use." Mama and Dee have different views on how their lives should be lived and about who they should be. According to Susan Farrell in Studies in Short Fiction, "Again, Mama is trained in acquiescence while Dee refuses to meekly accept the status quo" (181). Mama is very content with the simple life she is living. Maggie is also happy with her simple life. Mama and Maggie must rely on each other for entertainment because they do not have a television or radio. Mama and Maggie's house is not air conditioned, so sometimes it is more comfortable for them to be outside rather than inside the house. Dee, on the other hand, thinks that like is much better elsewhere. Dee wants Mama and Maggie to live the life of higher-class people. Dee seems to believe that since she went to college she does not come from the same roots as Mama and Maggie. The generational conflict takes place when Dee tries to convince Mama to change her lifestyle because she thinks Mama and Maggie could be living in a better place. Dee grew up during the Civil Rights movement. Mama grew up when black Americans had few freedoms, so Mama does not fully understand Dee's activities.

Dee changing her name to "Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo" shows that she is denying who she really is. She is so ashamed of Mama and Maggie's lifestyle that she said she would never bring anyone to Mama's house. Dee changes her name because she thinks it will change who she is and where she came from. She no longer wants to be named after her ancestors because she thinks they oppress her. Stefanie Dunning writes, "In Walker's work, the relationship between her activism and her art is clear, as she repeatedly examines and exposes oppression" (280). By saying that her ancestors oppress her, Dee is denying her heritage and who she is supposed to be. Dee is an African American who is trying to become an African. She wears brightly colored clothing and has changed her name to an African name rather than and American name. Dee is ashamed that her black ancestors were given white names.

Another theme is culture or heritage. Dee is trying to introduce Mama and



Download as:   txt (4.1 Kb)   pdf (73.3 Kb)   docx (10 Kb)  
Continue for 2 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 05). Theme Analysis Of "Everyday Use". Retrieved 05, 2011, from

"Theme Analysis Of "Everyday Use"" 05 2011. 2011. 05 2011 <>.

"Theme Analysis Of "Everyday Use".", 05 2011. Web. 05 2011. <>.

"Theme Analysis Of "Everyday Use"." 05, 2011. Accessed 05, 2011.