Symbolic Essays Everyday Use

The Bible story has religious significance; Hannah gives up her son to the Lord.In Vanity Fair, Amelia, though she is not of Vanity Fair, surrenders her son to advantages that money and position can provide. Removing #book# from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title.

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Iphigenia, daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, was sacrificed by her father for success in war, another route to power and position.

Old Osborne tries to sacrifice George to a marriage for money; he destroys Miss Jane's one romance for his own selfish convenience.

Again, there is the traditional tension between what is beautiful and attractive at odds with what is practical and useful.

There is no right or wrong way for a person to be, but the author is showing how these traditions are at odds.

The Iphigenia clock, then, symbolizes the complete subordination of the Osbornes to money and social success.

Amelia's giving up Georgy is compared to Hannah's giving up Samuel.

For instance, Dee’s mother admits that she is a solid and “big boned" woman who was built for work which her daughter, who has been around more educated people, does not find attractive since it does not suit her ideal of what a modern black woman should look like.

Her mother is aware of this, saying that if she were to appear on television, she would be, as she describes in one of the important quotes from “Everyday Use”by Alice Walker, “the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake." In other words, because of her tradition of education in the modern (read as “white-influenced" world) Dee would find that her mother is does not fit what her education has taught her is attractive.

To Dee, coming home with her big gold hoop earrings and bright long dresses is a demonstration that her traditions have changed.

Her mother finds it difficult to get over this change saying, “At sixteen she had a style of her own and knew what style was" and she also admits that, “Often I fought off the temptation to shake her." Just as with the case of the quilts, her mother thinks they should be useful and not decorative while her daughter, with her different educational traditions believes that they should not go to use and should stand for something.


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