Everyday Use, by Alice Walker
Girl, by Jamaica Kincaid
I Stand Here Ironing, by Tillie Olsen
Two Kinds, by Amy Tan
There is no second assignment as she is giving us a break for Valentine’s Day.
I am finding the class a tad frustrating because she will assign us readings about themes or settings, and I am supposing that we are supposed to be relating these things all together. Instead, my fellow classmates just post what they like about something or not like, without really delving into the meat of the story. My friend who recommended that I take this course online, said just wait- grades have yet to come out, and he said that I will see a big difference in their postings when they do.
With that, I read Everyday Use by Alice Walker because I have thoroughly read and loved Amy Tan’s writings- and I am so desperately trying to abide by the rule of writing about authors of whom I have never read a critique or review.
All four stories had strong themes of the intricacies of the mother-daughter relationship. Underneath that, each story addressed issues of poverty and the desire for the parent to want better for their child, and yet, each parent carried some element of guilt or poor self-esteem regarding how a particular daughter progressed into womanhood. Also, the authors each took time to compare their daughter to someone else, whether this be another daughter, a talented person, or a fictional concept, there was competitive nature in each story as the daughters matured. This allowed each author to create friction and address the difficulties of sibling rivalry.
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker not only addressed the subtly of raising two daughter who are opposites, but also the irony of how one daughter denied her background, embraced another, and then returned home to take her heritage as if to show it off as an artifact discovered from archeological field assignment. Dee/Wangero ran away from who and what she was, recreated herself, only to come back to take what she saw as the “priceless” parts, ignoring that priceless can have two meanings: the price of one’s market value and the price of the item’s history.
There was also the issue of Maggie, who lives in the house that her mother rebuilt, and will continue to live the life to which she was born. While the author presents her as the quieter, more insecure child, it becomes apparent that Maggie is the one who is more secure as she has accepted who she is and where she came from, rather than Dee/Wangero who seeks answers outside the fenced yard, only to return with more questions and demands.
Dee/Wangero denies herself access to who she is, until she returns to her traditional grounds seeking her “priceless” heritage. Dee/Wangero suffers from pride, and her sin affects the future of the family heritage. Fortunately, the narrator, the Mother, realizes this, saving the family quilts from becoming an amusing conversation piece decorating her living room and keeps them for Maggie’s eventual marriage.
We are only who we are. We can soul search the world in the hopes of finding the answers (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert), the answer always brings one back full circle—to your self. And while sadly Dee/Wangero will most likely continue searching for herself in those priceless artifacts, the reader can be rest assured that when Maggie marries, those quilts will continue to warm her and her family as they had one generation before.