In "Everyday Use," why is the first person point of view especially apprpriate to show the conflicts in the family?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Let us remind ourselves of the characteristics of first person perspective. It is a mode of narration that makes us identify with the narrator, as we see everything through his or her eyes and are given access to their thoughts and feelings. I suppose that Alice Walker could have picked a different point of view to tell this story, and that using an omniscient narrator would have provided a more balanced view, but by telling the story from Mama's point of view, it is clear that we as readers sympathise with her position, as a member of a discriminated race but also as a woman, as she tries to cope with her two daughters and the different stages they have reached in their lives.

In a sense, given the way in which the narrative forces Mama to chooses between her two daughters, it is therefore appropriate that we are able to follow this conflict from Mama's perspective. The conflict between Dee and her ideas of Maggie regarding the quilts is contrasted with Dee's desire to acquire another cultural artefact that shows the way she does not understand her family's past:

"Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" she said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use."

Thus it is that, as Mama looks at her pushy daughter, Dee, and Maggie, who looks like "somebody used to never winning anything," the point of view of this story allows us to understand and to trace the important decision that Mama makes to give Maggie the quilts and to stand up to Dee.

We’ve answered 317,557 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question