A Sociological Perspective On Everyday Use
4 Pages 973 Words
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines sociology as a systematic study of the development, structure, interaction, and collective behavior of organized groups of human beings. The most important structures that tie together these groups are economics, politics, and social status. The sociological evaluation of Everyday Use by Alice Walker enlightens on issues that continue to plague American families in the present. Walker’s own cultural surroundings reflect on this work, which is obvious by revealing economic, political, and social means within the story.
In Everyday Use economic problems are abound in how Walker forms her characters. This story illustrates the economic ways that Walker’s African American family is seeking fame and higher forms of living. The story opens as the narrator, Mama, and her youngest daughter, Maggie, await a visit from Dee, the oldest daughter, and a man who may be Dee’s husband. Dee, who was always scornful of her family’s way of life, has gone to college and now seems almost as distant as a film star; her mother imagines being reunited with her on a television show (Walker, 89; par. 4). Maggie, who seems to be intellectually impaired, bears severe burn scars from a house fire many years before. Both Mama and Maggie are intimidated by Dee and her ‘superior’ attitude. Dee is obviously ashamed of her poor upbringing, as she stated, “…from the way you [Maggie] and Mama still live…” (Walker, 94; par. 81) that Maggie did not understand there were more advantageous opportunities available, as if Maggie could not be content in her own way of life. This is the largest socio-economic validation within the story.
Dee is the epitome of the economic hierarchy within the tale, as she is clearly seeking to come to terms with returning to the old house where Mama is very poor. Dee represents the higher culture and her poor family origins cause great internal conflicts for her. Walker describes...