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Explain how the character of the narrator is developed through the use of language in...

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dazze12 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:42 PM via web

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Explain how the character of the narrator is developed through the use of language in 'Everyday Use'.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted July 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM (Answer #1)

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The character of Mrs Johnson, the narrator, comes through strongly in her distinct narrative voice. She employs a generally straightforward, plain style which reflects her no-nonsense, realistic, down-to-earth nature. Her plain, simple use of language also reflects her background as a lower-class, uneducated woman. Yet she has an eloquence of her own, an unmistakable idiom, which is rough-hewn yet powerful, like herself. 

From the way she tells her story, it seems that Mrs Johnson is not one to really reflect on things; she is a practical soul. It seems she has done hard manual work all her life, but she doesn't stop to think about this, her poverty and lack of education:

I never had an education myself. After second grade the school was closed down. Don't ask me why; in 1927 coloured asked fewer questions than they do now.

This quote illustrates how she doesn't tend to ask questions, discuss issues. Although she presents the story of the conflict over the quilts, she leaves it to others to figure out the implications of it all. She herself refuses to pass comment, she is content just to narrate events.

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