How is the text of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker organized?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One critic notes that Walker gives voice in this story ''to an entire maternal ancestry often silenced by the political rhetoric of the period." And, while this maternal ancestry has voice, really all African-American women have voice in this narrative, connecting them.

It is with an introspective look that the mother begins the narrative, "I will wait for her... Maggie will be nervous...." Then, the mother/narrator addresses the readers in a confessional, "Sometimes I dream a dream....But that is a mistake." Yet, the tragedy of losing Dee to the new identity she wants to assume is undercut by her vernacular throughout and her humorous tripping over the new names of her daughter Dee and the unpronounceable name of her male companion.

Here, then, is the organizational pattern of the story that is from the point of view of first person narrator:

  • Interior monologue - paragraphs 1 and 2
  • Address to the reader - paragraphs 3-6
  • First person narrator - paragraphs 7-12
  • Address to the reader - 13-17
  • First person narrator - remainder of the story.