In Blood and Heart
Alice Walker's story "Everyday Use" is about families (310-315). Ms. Walker uses the Johnson family to show her readers what family means and how family members interact with one another. She shows how families fight ignorance, face change, find happiness, and feel love.
Ms. Walker shows that ignorance is something every family must face. In "Everyday Use," Mama and Maggie lack knowledge of the world while Dee lacks understanding of her family. Dee read to her mother and sister of the outside world, "forcing words [...] upon us two" making them "ignorant underneath her voice" (312). Mama and Maggie did not need the knowledge of other places because they knew everything about the life they led; however, Dee was determined to make them learn. Dee's lack of understanding towards her family is demonstrated several times, particularly in the way she views items from the house.
She wanted to take pieces of the butter churn to use as decoration (315). She wanted to take the hand-stitched quilts and hang them on the wall, rather than being "backward enough to put them to everyday use" (315). In life, knowledge and understanding go hand in hand for most people; likewise, the lack of knowledge leads to lack of understanding. Different life experiences change the ways people see the world. Dee went away to school; she learned things that Mama and Maggie did not learn in their town. Likewise, Mama and Maggie knew things about the town and their family that Dee did not know or did not remember. The quilts Dee wanted so desperately came from pieces of her grandparents' and great-grandparents' clothing; the quilt-tops were hand-stitched by her grandmother, and the quilts finished by Mama and Big Dee (315). Dee wanted the quilts simply because...