Short Story Dec. 28: Walker

“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

Quote of Note: “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.”

This quote gets to the heart of relationships. A large part of damaged or unhealthy relationships comes from some level of jealousy and inequality. Sometimes it seems like everything is easier or better for someone else and sometimes it really is better for them; either way, that unfairness, that difference in fortune or even disposition can eat away at us. When it comes down to it, it’s a lack of empathy. This whole story is full of so many moments in which the characters lack empathy. Of course, Dee is the worse, having left home and received an education, she completely fails to return with compassion and empathy. She looks down on her mother and sister and doesn’t even realize she is being condescending and judgmental. Though, at the same time, we aren’t hearing this story from Dee’s point of view. The choice of narration is incredibly important. The above quote keys us into that, helping us to realize that perhaps the mother and Maggie have their own biases and blind spots when it comes to Dee. Walker so delicately paints a picture of this family — the things that are said and the things that are left unsaid.

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