When Alice Malsenior Walker married Melvin Roseman, they were considered to be the first legally interracial couple in the state of Mississippi. Walker is one of those writers who when someone reads one of her works they automatically get pull to all of her writings. She writes with her heart and writes from experiences that she has went through. She is an all around wonderful person who loves and would help everyone no matter their race, sex, and/or their status in society and she doesn’t let her money get to her head.
As said by Astrid H. Roemer, “She isn’t the girl on the book jackets; and she isn’t all glamour and chic like Toni Morrison; and she isn’t provocative and flashy like Buchi Emecheta; and she didn’t lose herself in all her American dollars. In everything she does with conviction, Alice Walker is very open-hearted and wonderfully unpredictable.” Alice Walker’s life along with her involvement in the Contemporary Era of American literature strengthened the literary merit of her short story “Everyday Use.”
Alice Walker was born on February 9th, 1944 to Willie Lee and Minnie Tallelah Grant in Eatonton, Georgia. Now her family wasn’t very wealthy; her dad only earned $300 a year and her mother was a domestic who worked as a seamstress just so her family would have more money. Their home was small and cramped especially with 5 older brothers living there with her. It was extremely hot in the summer and equally cold in the winter and also if it rained the roof would leak. Walker was a very intelligent girl who had no trouble getting through school and the teachers saw that, so she was placed in first grade ahead of everyone else. But her good luck would come to an end.
At the age of 8, Walker was outside playing a game of “Cowboys and Indians” with one of her older brothers when he struck Walker in her right eye with a BB pellet on accident. The boy was so scared that he would get in trouble that he convinced Walker to lie and say she got struck by a stray piece of wire. Her parents didn’t take her to the doctor right off because they thought that it wasn’t that bad and that it could be treated at home. But as time went by her eye got worse and than it got infected and she came down with a fever. Her parents than realized that she needed to go to a doctor because it wasn’t and wouldn’t get any better if not.
When the doctor took a look at her eye he asked Walker’s parents why they had waited so long and that she would loose sight in her right eye. He also said that since “the eyes are sympathetic, it was possible that Alice could lose sight in both her eyes.” But by the grace of God her eye finally healed but it developed into what Walker described as a “hideous white scar.” Walker who was popular, pretty, well liked, intelligent, outgoing, and despised was now picked on, was never talked to, close herself off from everything, hated school, and was a hateful person towards others all because of the scar on her right eye.
You now see this in her writing and especially in her short story called “Everyday Use”. In “Everyday Use” Walker wrote from experience and she portrays how she felt when she was little through Maggie. Now Maggie, Dee’s little sister, has scars and walks with a limp because he house burned down and she was left there and Dee wouldn’t help get her get out. Well Dee made fun of her and would always say that she couldn’t do anything for herself and that she would always be this way. Now she lived her life like this till the age of 14 when she went and got the “cataract” removed. This was a new beginning for Walker and she knew it.
Walker was awarded a rehabilitation scholarship for handicapped students from the state of Georgia, so she moved out of her parent’s home at the age of 17 to attend Spelman College, “a historically Black institution dedicated to educating African-American women.” While she was at Spelman she was “an active participant in the fight for Civil Rights”. Walker spoke out everywhere and got to meet important people such as John Lewis, Julian Bond and she even met Dr. Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott King before she left for a World Youth Peace Festival in Finland. But walker didn’t stay long at Spelman because she began to think of it as being to puritanical.
She than attended Sarah Lawrence, which was mostly “an elite, white women’s college” in Bronxville. Before her senior year at Sarah Lawrence Walker received a grant and decided to go to Kenya and Uganda as an exchange student. But when Walker came back she learned that she was pregnant. Walker didn’t want this and she didn’t need it in her life right now. She would sleep with a razor blade underneath her pillow at night because she had had thoughts of suicide. She couldn’t take anymore so she finally confined in one of her closest friends. Her friend was really worried about her so she found her a doctor who would perform an abortion. After it was over with Walker suffered from anxiety and depression. So to help herself Walker started to write poems and she gave them to her mentor, Muriel Rukeyeser.
As time went by she got better and she finally meet a guy who she loved more than ever. On March 17, 1967 Melvyn Roseman and Walker got married. Walker later becomes an attorney who prosecutes civil rights cases. Their marriage to one another didn’t last long but only till 1976. But in 1969, before they ended it, they gave birth to their daughter who they named Rebecca Grant.
Through out the rest of Walker’s life she would receive a Guggenheim Foundation grant, opens up her own publishing company and than later closes Wild Trees Press. Walker now lives in Mendocino, California with her dog-named Marley.
Thirdly we will mention her involvement in the Contemporary Era. Walker is very effident in her writing. Walker uses the elements of blending fiction with non-fiction. Walker also uses the elements of experimenting with physical appearance of their work. An example is when Walker is writing in “Everyday Use” she clearly states that the family is poor but in real live Walker’s family was poor to and Walker relived how she use to live through the characters in “Everyday Use”.
Another example is when at the age of eight Walker got shot in her right eye and left a scar. Well in her short story Maggie had scars all along her body and would walk with a limp because of the house fire and Dee made fun of her. Well Walker got made fun of because of the scar so Walker used how she felt and put her feelings into the character of Maggie. Walker will also use the elements of dialogue alone to write her stories or poems.
Lastly when the reader reads “Everyday Use” the reader will see Walker use the theme of love. In “Everyday Use” it was clear the love between Maggie and her mother. In Walker’s life she had a passion, a love to write and express her feelings.
Also when reading Walker uses the theme of honestly. In the short story the mother told Dee that the reason she wouldn’t give the quilts to her was because she didn’t know the true meaning of them and Maggie did.
In “Everyday Use” the quilts are a symbol of Maggie’s family and Walker tries to get the reader to understand the true meaning and why they mean so much. Also the house is a symbol because it shows that no matter how poor a person is it doesn’t matter because the love of someone who cares for is more important than all the money in the world. The reader will see this in her writing because Walker knows how important love for someone or something is and she portrays this love and feeling in her writing.
So in conclusion Walker’s experiences as a member of a poor family and with a strong sense of the Contemporary concepts have influenced the style of writing Walker used in Her short story “Everyday Use”. This short story is one of the best in the Contemporary Era and Walker uses all her heart and her feelings and than she puts them in her writing and will make it the most amazing story of it kind.