Monday, October 22, 2012

everyday use

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With her story, Everyday Use, Alice Walker is saying that art should be a living, breathing part of the culture it arose from, rather than something from which to be observed from a distance. To make this point, she uses the quilts in her story to symbolize art; and what happens to these quilts represents her theory of art. The quilts themselves, as art, are inseparable from the culture they arose from. The history of these quilts is a history of the family. The narrator says, In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrells Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezras uniform that he wore in the Civil War. So these quilts, which have become a valued possession passed through succeeding generations, not only represent the family, but also are an integral part of the family. Walker is saying that true art not only represents its culture, but also is an inseparable part of that culture. The manner in which the quilts are treated shows Walkers view of how art should be treated. Dee desires the quilts for their financial and artistic value. But theyre priceless! she exclaims, when she learns that her mother has already promised them to Maggie. Dee argues that Maggie is backward enough to put them to everyday use. Indeed, this is how Maggie views the quilts. She values them for what they mean to her as an individual. This becomes clear when she says, I can member Grandma Dee without the quilts, implying that her connection with the quilts is personal and emotional rather than financial and artistic. She also knows that the quilts are an active process, kept alive through continuous renewal. As the narrator points out, Maggie knows how to quilt. The two sisters values concerning the quilt represent the two main approaches to art appreciation in our society. Art can be valued for financial and artistic reasons, or it can be valued for personal and emotional reasons. When the narrator snatches the quilts from Dee and gives them to Maggie, Walker is saying that the second set of values is the correct one. Art, in order to be kept alive, must be put to Everyday Use -- literally in the case of the quilts, figuratively in the case of traditional art. Alice Walker is using the quilts, and the fate of those quilts, to make the point that art can only have meaning if it remains connected to the culture it sprang from. Her story itself is a good example Walker didnt write it to be observed under a glass case, judged artistically, and sold to the highest bidder; she meant it to be questioned, to be explored, to be debated -- in short, to be put to Everyday Use.

Everyday Use

We always carry something to remind us who we are or where we come from. There are some people trying to forget who they are or where they come from. But there are also some people who will never forget their roots and their culture. They even value a little thing that has a significant meaning because it reminds them who they are. The story “Everyday Use”, written by Alice Walker, is not simply about the quilts but also about the culture where narrator comes from. The story presents the conflict about how the quilts, apart of culture, should be treated. Should it be hang on the wall or should it be put to “everyday use”.

“Everyday Use” is narrated by a woman who describe herself as working hard has “a large, big-boned with rough, a man-working hands.” She has enjoyed a rugged farming life in the country. She has two daughters, Maggie, her younger daughter, and Dee, her older daughter. The story starts with the even that Dee will pay her and Maggie a visit. Dee had left home for quite a long time. She and Maggie were very happy to see Dee and everything was fine until Dee saw the quilt. The quilt was handmade by her mother, Dee and Maggie’s grandmother. By the time, it has been quilted again and again by her mother and her to keep it new. It has become the heirloom of the family. Besides, they have another quilt as well, but it was made by machine and Dee was not interested in



it. Dee wanted the handmade one. Now the conflict occurs, should she give it to Dee or Maggie, which she has promised to give her. A decision should be made.

To Dee and Maggie, this quilt is precious but they have totally different point of view on why they see it precious. Dee covets the quilt for its financial and aesthetic value. “But they are priceless” she exclaims, when she learns that her mother has already promised it to Maggie. Dee said that Maggie is “backward enough to put it to everyday use.” Indeed, this is how Maggie views this quilt. She values it for what it means to her as an individual. This becomes clear that her connection with the quilt is personal and emotional rather than financial and aesthetic. She values it greatly because it gives her a connection with her grandmother, her family when she sees the quilt. But she is willing to give it up to Dee and still “remember grandmother” without the quilt. To her the quilt is not important, it is much more important that she has the connection with her family from deep inside her mind, her heart.

The quilt, a piece of art which represent the family, the culture can be valued for financial reasons, or it can be valued for personal and emotional reasons. Snatching the quilt from Dee, the woman gave it to Maggie and offered Dee the machine stitched one, the lady told us which set values is correct, it must be put into “Everyday use.”

This story is abou how the quilt shout be treated. Should it be used or hung on the wall. And I absolutely agree with what the narrator did which was give it to Maggie. If the narrator gave it to Dee, she would frame the quilt and hang it on the wall, distancing it from her present life and aspiration, to put them to everyday use would be to admit her status as a member of her old fashioned family. It is right to give the quilt to Maggie because the quilt is an active process, kept alive through continuous renewal and Maggie knows how to quilt. Not only will she use the quilt, but also she will go on making more and pass them down to next generation.

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