Everyday Use Questions and Answers
by Alice Walker

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How does characterization play an important role in the story "Everyday Use", by Alice Walker?

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Characterization is an especially important feature of Alice Walker’s short story titled “Everyday Use.” After all, the story does not have an especially dramatic plot, nor is its setting particularly remarkable. By the same token, the language of the story does not call any great attention to itself (through, for example, vivid metaphors, striking similes, or unforgettable imagery). The dialogue, for the most part, is not particularly memorable. Instead, the story is, largely, a story about three distinct characters, and our interest in the work derives mainly from our interest in these characters and their interactions.

Particular examples of Walker’s emphasis on characterization include the following:

  • The very first words of the very opening sentence already introduce the story’s focus on the three main characters: “Iwill wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean” (emphasis added). Relations among these characters will be crucial to the story, and so Walker...

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