What do you know about the mother of the story?

QEP Assignment*: Thinking and writing are connected activities. We think before we write, and writing changes our thinking. While all kinds of pre-writing activities are useful, answering a series of questions before writing a literary analysis can be particularly productive.

The following is a practice exercise. You won’t write an essay on this specific story, but practicing the prewriting process with it will be a useful exercise to develop the necessary critical thinking for literary analysis and argument.

Read Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” (pp. 379-386 RLWA) and answer the questions below that are geared toward helping you understand her narrative point of view and purpose.

Offer specific support from the text and cite appropriately using MLA format.


1. What do you know about the mother of the story?


2. When we have a first-person narrator, we have to decide if she is reliable or unreliable. Do you trust this narrator? Why or why not?


3.  What assumptions does the narrator have about her daughters? Do you agree? Why?


4. How would the story be different if it were told from Dee/Wangero’s perspective?


5. Mama and Dee/Wangero have different ideas about personal development. What are they? What are the consequences of their differences?


6. Based on your answers to all of the above, offer your opinion of Mama’s decision to give the quilt to Maggie.


7. How does Walker define heritage?