Write a 750-word essay on Alice Walker’s Everyday Use, defend or refute Mama’s beliefs about the use of the items in her home that her daughter wants to take to preserve.
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.
Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand
hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her
arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She
thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that “no”
is a word the world never learned to say to her.
You’ve no doubt seen those TV shows where the child who has “made
it” is confronted, as a surprise, by her own mother and father, tottering
in weakly from backstage. (A pleasant surprise, of course: What would
they do if parent and child came on the show only to curse out and
insult each other?) On TV mother and child embrace and smile into
each other’s faces. Sometimes the mother and father weep, the child
wraps them in her arms and leans across the table to tell how she
would not have made it without their help. I have seen these programs.
Sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought
together on a TV program of this sort. Out of a dark and soft-seated
limousine I am ushered into a bright room filled with many people.
There I meet a smiling, gray, sporty man like Johnny Carson who
shakes my hand and tells me what a fine girl I have. Then we are on the
stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes. She pins on my
dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks
orchids are tacky flowers.
In real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working
hands. In the winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls
during the day. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man. My
fat keeps me hot in zero weather. I can work outside all day, breaking
ice to get water for washing; I can eat pork liver cooked over the open
fire minutes after it comes steaming from the hog. One winter I
knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledge
hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall. But of
course all this does not show on television. I am the way my daughter
would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an
uncooked barley pancake. My hair glistens in the hot bright lights.
Johnny Carson has much to do to keep up with my quick and
But that is a mistake. I know even before I wake up. Who ever knew a
Johnson with a quick tongue? Who can even imagine me looking a
strange white man in the eye? It seems to me I have talked to them
always with one foot raised in flight, with my head fumed in whichever
way is farthest from them. Dee, though. She would always look anyone
in the eye. Hesitation was no part of her nature