Essay: Literary Analysis on Cultural Contexts

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Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" provides readers with a first-person account told from the perspective of an African-American woman, 'Mama', as she relates to her two daughters and to their understanding of their background. Alice Walker wrote this story during a period of turmoil for African-Americans across the U.S. And it is likely that he intended it to serve as a tool to emphasize that many of the individuals who identified with their African roots failed to actually gain a complex understanding of their background. Walker practically wanted people to comprehend that it would be wrong for them to ignore years that the African community spent on the American continent in favor to embrace African cultural values. It is not necessarily that Walker was not interested in supporting the black power movement, as she also wanted its members to be well-acquainted with the importance of appreciating their background.

Cultural identity was a divisive concept during the 1960s and 1970s and this is reflected by Walker's short story. Her story concentrates on how some characters have trouble discovering their cultural identity and to how they go through great efforts in order to do so. These ideas actually reinforce the fact that the African-American community was in a critical condition during the period. While the black power movement experienced significant progress in the era, it was difficult for many of its members to understand exactly what they were fighting for. Moreover, these people had trouble devising a set of attitudes that could be considered normal with regard to their position. Moreover, the civil rights group that emerged during the period further confused individuals, with the black power movement playing an important role in denouncing this group's tendency to focus on an agenda that was too broad and that did not deal with the issue of cultural identity in particular (Harris 4).

"Everyday Use" recounts a story involving the speaker, 'Mama', as she stays home with her daughter Maggie and as they receive a visit from her other daughter, Dee. Dee puts across great sophistication and makes both women feel uncomfortable with regard to their knowledge in general. This character is determined to have her relative acknowledge the importance of their African heritage and emphasizes their failure to realize that they are unable to connect with their background. She uses a series of attitudes in an attempt to open their eyes but gradually demonstrates that she is actually the individual who is unable to understand her past and that she is obsessed with a series of things that have very little to do with her background.

Walker manages to highlight an inner conflict in America's black community in spite of the fact that African-Americans during the period were fighting for their rights and in order to promote their background. "Alice Walker not only explores a disturbed intrafamily relationship between three black women of the South, but represents a severe conflict within America's black society, where new radical views and misperceptions of the word heritage collide with traditional black rural life style" (Lewis 4).

As they struggled to refrain from being assimilated by the dominantly white American community, many African-Americans forgot what they were actually fighting for. Black Power leaders actually made it difficult for many African-Americans to experience proper progress because they were influenced to focus mainly on acting in disagreement with all things associated with white concepts (Harris 4). This makes it possible for readers to gain a better understanding of Walker's position concerning the black power movement during the 1960s and 1970s. Although it was essentially well-intended, it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Literary Analysis on Cultural Contexts.  (2013, April 24).  Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/literary-analysis-cultural-contexts/7357070

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