How would the story "Everyday Use" change if a form of omniscient narrator were used rather than the first person narrator of the mother that is used?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," a switch in point-of-view would turn remove the story of its matriarchal voice, and we would not know the interior thoughts of Mrs. Johnson or her impact in crowning Maggie the next matriarch of the family.

The premise of the whole story focuses on Mrs. Johnson's interior thoughts.  She tells us that she is the self-sufficient matriarch of the family who anxiously awaits her elder daughter's homecoming.  She even dreams about it, and we know that she is ready to bestow heirlooms on her daughter.  Mrs. Johnson's backstory would not mesh well in third person: it would be too much "telling" by the author.

But when Mrs. Johnson finds out that Dee has given up her name, dress, and cultural values, Mrs. Johnson gives the quilt and butter churn to Maggie.  More, Mrs. Johnson takes away Dee's voice: she doesn't speak the last third of the story.  In this way, Mrs. Johnson's narrative matriarchal voice trumps the younger, more educated one in Dee.

To lose Mrs. Johnson's voice diminishes the conclusion completely.  Rather than a proud mother of Maggie, Mrs. Johnson becomes a resentful with-holder from Dee.  The story then becomes more of a sibling rivalry than a womanist ritual based on language.

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Everyday Use

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