Alice Walker’s Self Portrayal In “Everyday Use

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Alice Walker draws on her personal experiences growing up as a sharecropper's daughter in Georgia to realistically relate the story, "Everyday Use." The story features two sisters, Maggie and Dee, who are very different from each other physically, intellectually, and emotionally and their mother, referred to as "Mama." One who is unaware of Walker's past may believe that she equates herself with Dee's character. In fact, Maggie more precisely exemplifies the author's self image. Although one can find similarities between Dee's life and Walker's, the parallels between her life and Maggie's are too abundant to ignore. Additionally, Walker's poem, "For My Sister Molly Who in the Fifties," describes a very "Dee-esque" person. In her book, In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens, Walker states regarding the poem that it "is a pretty real poem. It really is about one of my sisters"(269). This statement supports the claim that Walker relies on her childhood memories as material for her writing.

The first reflection of Walker's childhood is found in the yard and house in "Everyday Use." They are an accurate depiction of her childhood homestead. She begins the story with a description of the yard in which Maggie and Mama await Dee's arrival. Mama informs the reader, "It is not just a yard. It is an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit [ . . . ]" (Walker, Everyday 89). In a conversation with her mother about the cliché concerning greener grass, Walker alludes to having a sand yard as a child. She asserts, "Grass on the other side of the fence might have good fertilizer, while grass on your side might have to grow, if it...



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