Literary elements are a category of literary devices (one of two categories) that are not optional. This means that literary elements appear in all literary narratives, whether novels or short stories. Some literary elements are character, theme, plot and conflict, structure, setting, mood, and tone.
One literary element that Walker uses is the structural literary element of flashback. At one point Mrs. Johnson recalls the fire years earlier in which Maggie was tragically burned. The theme of the story is enhanced by this structural element because it provides a greater insight into Dee's and Maggie's inner qualities and to the conflict between them of what everyday objects are valued for: passing ornamentation versus family memories.