A nine-page handout designed for honors-class students who seek more than a superficial analysis of Walker’s most anthologized story. It delves into the structure of “Everyday Use,” including the inciting moment or the major problem of the story, its climax, recognition, and reversal (or surprise ending), and its denouement or final resolution.
Your students will examine in depth the characters, the symbolism, the theme, and the importance of the subtitle/dedication of the story. The significance of the African and Muslim names and terms, so often bungled in footnotes to Walker’s story, will be explained.
Your students will consider why the father of the family is mentioned only one time in the story and why the younger daughter, not her mother or sister, is strangely the sole person injured in the fire, topics not covered in other analyses of “Everyday Use.”
In the five-page answer key are embedded comments for the teacher. These include Walker’s own description of the autobiographical nature of the story. The cultural background is also analyzed, particularly the two-prong movement among some African Americans in the late 1960s: Back to their African roots and their attraction to Islam.
These comments may assist in answering questions by your students, or you may decide to incorporate some of these “extras” into your class’s discussion of the story.
My handout, which has blanks that your students can fill in, is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity. As indicated, an answer key is provided on separate pages at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.