Everyday Use Essay

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Piedmont-Marton is a professor of English and the coordinator of the writing center at the University of Texas at Austin. In the following essay, she discusses the quilting metaphor in "Everyday Use."

Alice Walker's early story "Everyday Use" is clustered around a central image: quilting and quilts. Her use of this metaphor is important to critics because she went on to develop the theme more fully in her later work, especially the novel The Color Purple. Simply put, the quilt is a metaphor for the ways in which discarded scraps and fragments may be made into a unified, even beautiful, whole.

Quilting symbolizes the process out of which the unimportant and meaningless may be transformed into the valued and useful. Walker finds this metaphor especially useful for describing African-American women's lives, which traditional history and literature have often ignored and misrepresented.

Alice Walker is not the first to...

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This section contains 1,361 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Everyday Use Study Guide
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Everyday Use from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.