A Good Man Is Hard to Find Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

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What levels of meaning do you find in the title of Walker's story "Everyday Use"? What are the possible implications and associations? How many things can "everyday use" be referring to?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The phrase, everyday use, could certainly imply lots of things. First, something that we put to everyday use, that we actually do use everyday, is something that must be fairly important in the context of our lives. For example, I use my car everyday to get to and from work, and it is extremely important to me so that I can be on time, leave when I want to, and so on. The car itself is not particularly meaningful to me, but the purpose it serves in my everyday life is gigantic. However, I also use my bathroom mirror everyday to maintain my personal appearance and present myself in a way that feels most comfortable to me. Again, the mirror is not that important on its own, but the everyday use to which I put it feels quite important to me. Unlike my car, I use the mirror to prepare myself for my day, and if I did not have it, I might not feel as confident in my appearance and preparedness.

Even more different, however, are the ideas that I put to everyday use. These ideas, my values and priorities and goals, I learned from parents and teachers and friends, and some I have developed independently. They govern my behaviors and choices and, as such, are incredibly important to me and my sense of self. On the other hand, I also use my refrigerator every day, and while it makes my life easier, I certainly have no emotional attachment to it whatsoever. Therefore, everyday use could imply that something is necessary even if not particularly valuable; it could imply that something is necessary and of some personal value, or even that it has extreme and significant worth in terms of our individual identities.

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