Writing Assignment
Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"

The story confronts us with two characters with very different values.  What are the deeper differences in character between Dee and Maggie, and how do these show up in the differences between what the quilts mean to them?  (Or:  organize your presentation the other way around.  Ask how the differences between what the quilts mean to them lead us to notice how profoundly different the values are that define their character for us.)

Conclude by explaining what you think Walker has designed the story to get us to notice about what's ultimately most important, and about ways we might lose sight of this.  Which sort of values do you think the author thinks people ought to hold dear?  Be sure to include some explanation of how you think the story communicates this.

Caution:  don't just read your own personal values into the story.  Try to detect what the story seems to be urging us (however subtly or crudely, however soundly or unsoundly) to endorse.  Then you can ask, if you want, whether you yourself agree with this perspective -- or whether (as will certainly be the case with some stories) the values you detect to be those of the story strike you as unsound -- sentimental, simple-minded, perverse, even insane, as the case may be.

  Consult the Study Guide to this story before attempting this writing assignment.

  You may also wish to review the general instructions on writing assignments.

  Suggestions are welcome.  Please send your comments to lyman@ksu.edu .

      Contents copyright 1999 by Lyman A. Baker

Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.

  This page last updated 25 April 2000.