Everyday Use was first published in 1973 as part of the short story collection In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. These stories span multi-generational periods and interconnect Black women from the American South, New York City and Uganda.
Told in first person by Mama, Everyday Use is set in the late 1960’s, a time when Black America was undergoing a great transformation. Through the Civil Rights movement, black Americans began ushering in a new era for themselves. The old life of the rural black farmer immersed in the aura of sharecropping and spectre of slavery is quickly being rendered obsolete.
The conflict in the story is centered around the clash between these two worlds, which Walker’s character Dee straddles. Dee increasingly rebukes her own heritage for the ideas and rhetoric of the new Black Pride movement. Walker weaves themes of African cultural nationalism with a narrative steeped in family conflict. On another level Alice Walker provides a unique perspective on the struggle of the African-American woman to find both identity and voice from the shadows of the past, as well as a rapidly changing future. Everyday Use continues to be included in definitive anthologies of American Literature.