Where is "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker set?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"Everyday Use" takes place in the yard and house of the Johnson family in rural Georgia in the early 1970s.  The location is established in the exposition (paragraph 1):

I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon. A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house.

The focus is on the duality of Mrs. Johnson, as she feels more comfortable outside, doing man's work (butchering a hog), rather than inside, doing domestic work.

The story itself was written in 1973 and is meant to be present day.  The speaker, Mrs. Johnson, alludes to The Johnny Carson show: "There I meet a smiling, gray, sporty man like Johnny Carson who shakes my hand and tells me what a fine girl I have."

Later, when her daughter Dee comes home from college, allusions to the Black Nationalist movement (Nation of Islam) is mentioned, establishing the story at the crossroads of the post-Civil Rights era.


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