What feelings and opinions does Alice Walker evoke in her readers with her short story “Everyday Use”?

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mickey2bailey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Another feeling that Alice walker evoked in reading the story is sentimentality.  It is felt by visualizing the items being discussed in the story as part of the past.  The quilts, the bench, and the churn were all things made with time, love, devotion and sometimes hardship. Appreciation is another feeling the story conveyed to me. It made me have a greater appreciation for things from my past.  I have alot of embroidered pictures, tablecloths and napkins that my grandmother made and I haven't used them because I've been afraid I would ruin them, but after reading this story I have begun to use them and reminesce about my own past and moments that I had with my Grandmother.  The power of words is amazing!  They can make your life take on a whole new meaning.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Empathy is one strong emotion evoked in Walker's story. We feel for the mother, Mrs. Johnson, as she battles her strong willed and patronizing daughter, Dee. We also feel empathy for Maggie, who though burned on the outside is beautiful within.

We also feel a sense of outrage at Dee for her devaluing the role of her family heirloom, wanting to put the beloved family quilt in a museum. Again, her patronizing ways are what is evident as she chastised Dee: "Maggie wouldn't appreciate these quilts," she said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use."

And she would. For in the quilts, Maggie has a connection to her family that Dee does not, or will not, share. Walker makes the reader feel a real connection to the past as she describes the "scraps of dresses Grandma Dee jad worn fifty and more years ago" and the small shard "that was from Great Grandpa Ezra's uniform that he wore in the Civil War."

Walker's Mrs. Johnson and Dee reject the false African identity that Dee (who has renamed heself Wangero) in favor of the flawed, but real, past of black Americans. It is an opinion the author clearly wants to communicate.

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