Everyday Use. By Alice Walker. Author’s Background. best-known for her novel The Color Purple, which was published in 1982 and won both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award the following year
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By Alice Walker
Write a 2-Chunk paragraph per character.
1. List the characteristics of the three main characters in “Everyday Use” as they are revealed by the narrator. How do the differences between these two characters add to the conflict in the story. What IS the conflict?
2. What is the point of view in “Everyday Use”? How does the style of writing reflect the character of the person who tells the story? That is, look at the language of the speaker. What are characteristics of that language and how do those characteristics reflect the personality of the speaker?
3. What do the quilts symbolize? What other evidence in the story lead us to see the quilts as symbols of a bigger issue? How does the climactic ending turn the tables on Dee’s use of terms like “backward” and “heritage”? What is ironic about Dee’s use of these words?
4. How does the title hint at the central theme of the story? What other evidence in the story hints at the central theme? What is that central theme? What in the story helps especially to bring the theme to life for you and keep it from becoming an abstract idea?
5. What IRONY occurs when the departing Dee accuses her mother and sister of not understanding "your heritage" (845, par. 82)? Significantly who smiles at this point, and why does she smile?
6. Who is the ANTAGONIST of the story? Explain.
7. In the end, with which characters does Alice Walker seem to side on the issue of heritage?