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Symbolic References in Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

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Symbolism is the taking of an object big or small, and giving it something to stand for. It could be your everyday math symbols for addition, subtraction, division, and etc. Although math symbols are perfect examples of symbolism, there’s also objects that can be more than what they are. For example animals, Lions are known to be symbolized as strength, aggression, and assertiveness. Birds like doves are symbolized as love and peace. Colors are also held symbolically, for instance the color black resembling death, and depression. As for reds and pinks symbolizing love, valentine’s day being a perfect example of those two colors showing up all over the place.

In the short story “Everyday Use”, symbolism is used in objects that tend to represent more than what they are. In “Everyday Use”, the narrating character mama Johnson and her youngest daughter Maggie, struggle to find peace with her eldest daughter Dee. Dee never wanted to accept her way of living so left after high school. One day Dee came back as a total different person changing her name and way of appearance. She asked for the objects that Mama Johnson and Maggie put to everyday use so she can pin it up as art, and being that she was spoiled she got what she wanted. When Dee was denied the quilts by Momma Johnson, she went off on her words on how Maggie couldn’t appreciate the quilts. Maggie overhearing the conversation from the kitchen, interrupted with stating that she could remember Grandma Dee without the Quilts, and that’s when Mama Johnson put her foot down. She grabbed the quilts out of Dee’s hands and placed them into Maggie’s. Dee left saying that Mama Johnson and Maggie didn’t appreciate their heritage. When in reality Dee doesn’t truly understand her heritage...


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Eshbauhg, Ruth. “A Literary Analysis of Alice Walker’s Short Story ‘Everyday Use’.” Yahoo! Voices. Yahoo, inc., 21 Aug 2008.web.17 Mar 2014

Foleylan.”Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’.” StudyMode. N.P., June 2012.web.17 Mar 2014.

Moore, Julie.”Heritage and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’.” Yahoo! Voice. Yahoo, inc., 29 May 2007. Web.17 Mar 2014.

SparkNotes, ed.”Theme, Motifs and Symbols.” Sparknotes. Sparknotes LLC, N.d.web. 17 Mar 2014

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use”. Heritage of American Literature: Civil War to the Present. Ed. James E. Miller Austin: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991; 714.

White, David. “’Everyday Use’: Defining African American Heritage.” Luminarium. Annina Jokinen, 19 Sep 2002. Web. 17 Mar 2014

Wirework, ed. “Symbolism in ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker.” WriteWork. N.P., May 2006.web.17 Mar 2014.



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