- a) Hook
The social world has been defined differently to both men and women. Women have been marginalized and referred to ‘other’ in patriarchal societies. When defining gender roles culturally, it may be viewed as patriarchal or anti-patriarchal.
In the short story “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker illustrates the gender role of her characters as anti-patriarchal according to the context of feminist theory. The writer considers the gender role as anti-patriarchal because of how Mama takes part in her activities, refusing to submit to any authoritative figures and her physical appearance. Walker also depicts the anti-patriarchal ideology on how Mama violated her traditional gender roles.
- b) Thesis statement
There is a need for equality of treatment to both genders; people need to appreciate their cultural heritage and that of others irrespective of the societal needs and beliefs.
The characters are seen to have contradicting attitudes towards the cultural aspects of their society. The story shows the dynamic relationship that exists between Mama, Dee, and Maggie. They all have different and conflicting attitudes towards their cultural and family roots.
In her story, Alice Walker gives a comparison between the African Americans who have accepted their race and cultures by living according to their customs and participating in their family traditions, with those who struggled with their identity and displaying their lifestyles.
There is a conflict of well-spoken and educated versus quiet and ignorant, light skinned and dark skinned. Mama and Maggie each stand on one side while Dee on the other. Alice shows the different sides by using the various characters Dee and Maggie, and their mother, each of them has different philosophies in life they have different opinions regarding the values and cost of different items. Moreover, Dee’s decision of changing her name and the lack of knowledge on how to quilt plus not being interested in those people who made the artifacts represent her lack of interest in carrying on her family’s heritage.
Even though Maggie’s and her mother’s view of culture are different, they believe that legacy is more about their family’s tradition. Mama is against Dee taking the quilts because she thinks that it would be more convenient when Maggie stays with them since she will put them to everyday use and use them as they were intended. The story which takes place in the 1960s, a time the African- Americans were struggling to define their identities and cultural terms. The story is in the homestead of Mama which looks neglected and broken down. It shows the stereotype of the lives of poor Black people, mostly the subsistence farmers of the south.
The issue of race and cultural identity is very evident in the story as the writer tries to illustrate the impact it has on our society today fully.
The way Mama describes Dee as being lighter and with more beautiful hair than Maggie shows how African Americans try to identify with the Whites. Some believe that being a lighter African American always comes with some benefits. Mama is trying to point out the legacy that has long existed about enslaved people who were fairer than others were exempted from any work.
The short story also depicts the issue of race in our society today through the characters. According to Mama after the second grade, the institution was shut down. They had no right to ask questions just because they were colored. She indicates that she has been raised in a society that has forced her to speak against any form of inequality or injustices.
In conclusion, our society today is ever changing, and a person should always stand against racism or any form of injustice. Today, there is a stronger African- American voices that have brought about higher privileges and opportunities that it existed during Mama’s youth. Dee also tries to encourage her sister of the much changing society than it was during Mama’s era and that she should embrace it since it is “a new day” for them.