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Essay on Therapeutic Writing: A Comparison of Alice Walker and Her Characters

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In the short story, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the author's life parallels with each family members characteristics. The narrative is about a mother who is self-sufficient. The narrator lives with her youngest daughter, Maggie. The younger sibling is very self-conscious due to her scars from a house fire. When Dee, the oldest daughter, arrives the family is awkwardly reunited. Dee begins to lay claim to various household objects. However, when she tries to claim quilts that were promised Maggie, Mama turns her down. Even though, the storyline is quite simple, the personality of each person makes it far more complex. Mama illustrates the fears of what Walker feels is her future. Dee embodies the ambition and curious nature from her young adult life. Maggie symbolizes the meek and innocent stage of her life. All of the three women combined represent the trials of Alice Walker.
Mama embodies the fear that comes with approaching thirty. In this character, Alice is able to personify the average worries of a women. The narrator of this story is a “large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (Walker). It is in the physical description of the speaker that the reader sees the most common fear among women: their figure. By placing the description after the older woman talks about her dreams, the audience sees that her figure is not something she fully enjoys. Additionally, Walker is from an agricultural background just like Mama. She eventually left her life in the country to become a writer and political figure. The author has worked hard to get to where she is. The mother shows the internalized concern that all her work will not be fruitful. Mama is at the point where life has lead her full circle. She has experienced li...


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...e eye with a BB gun. Alice's injury made her shy and self-conscious. This is just like Maggie's coy personality. Another similarity is the agricultural background. Having corresponding backgrounds ties Walker closer to Maggie. In fact, the youngest daughter has the biggest connection to the author out of the whole group. It is the character Maggie that confirms the autobiographical features of the story.
Thus, “Everyday Use” is an autobiography. Each character is a metaphor for important phases of her life. Throughout the story, she uses her past experiences to write a moving story. From start to finish, the story embodies the life of a typical woman reaching a new chapter of her life. She looks into her past and acknowledges the past and the physical, emotional, and educational differences within each piece of her life.


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"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker


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