What insight and understanding can be gained from reading "Bullet Points" and "Everyday Use"? What is the value of literature that deals with such topics or perspectives?

The purpose of these two texts lies in making the reader understand the lived experience of the characters. By seeing things from the perspective of others, such literature can help readers become more empathetic and humane.

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Both the poem and the story are grounded in fundamental truths about everyday life. Each text functions to make these truths apparent to the reader, if not to other characters.

This is pretty clear in the Walker story. The objects in the narrator's house clearly mean different things to her and her sophisticated daughter, Dee. Their disagreement over the quilt is a case in point. Dee sees it as symbolic of her "heritage," a kind of museum piece or trophy signifying both her roots and how far she has come. For the narrator, however, the quilt is a quilt, something that will keep you warm at night. Its "worth" lies in its usefulness; for her, the beauty of the quilt lies in how it embodies the love of previous generations who worked on it—a love that is tied to the practical considerations of living on this particular piece of land. While Dee can't understand this, it is pretty clear to the reader that the narrator makes the right choice in giving the quilt to Maggie.

In Brown's poem "Bullet Points," the situation is a little different. The purpose of his poem is to explain that he has no desire to commit suicide, and that if he should be found dead in police custody, it was not because he killed himself. It is a kind of testimony in advance, a pre-denial of whatever story the police might concoct to explain his death. Implicit in the poem is the poet's fear that he'll fall into the hands of the police and his desire to make clear to his audience what the truth of the situation is. The identity of this audience is ambiguous. For white people, the poem dramatizes the fear and outrage the poet feels; for Black people, it is a form of truth-telling, or an acknowledgement of the dangers common to poet and reader alike.

The value of both texts lies in the ways they make clear certain truths about the lives of their characters. We empathize with every character in the Walker story, including Dee, whose life has been spent trying to escape the punishing poverty of the farm. In Brown's poem, we come to understand that the poet's fears are not "made up" or exaggerated and that his love of life is the same as our own.

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