Lesson 4 Everyday Use of Grandmamma
by Alice Walker
Ⅰ. Background Information
 1. Introduction of the author:
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Alice Malsenior Walker (born February 9, 1944) is an American author,
self-declared feminist and womanist - the latter a term she herself coined
to make special distinction for the experiences of women of color. She has
written at length on issues of race and gender, and is most famous for the
critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple, for which she won the
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
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Walker's first book of poetry was written while she was still a senior at
Sarah Lawrence, and she took a brief sabbatical from writing when she
was in Mississippi working in the civil rights movement. Walker resumed
her writing career when she joined Ms. magazine as an editor before
moving to northern California in the late 1970s. An article she published in
1975 was largely responsible for the renewal of interest in the work of
Zora Neale Hurston, who was a large source of inspiration for Walker's
writing and subject matter. In 1973, Walker and fellow Hurston scholar
Charlotte D. Hunt discovered Hurston's unmarked grave in Ft. Pierce,
Florida. Both women paid for a modest headstone for the gravesite.
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In addition to her collected short stories and poetry, Walker's first novel, The Third Life
of Grange Copeland, was published in 1970. In 1976, Walker's second novel, Meridian,
was published. The novel dealt with activist workers in the South during the civil rights
movement, and closely paralleled some of Walker's own experiences.
In 1982, Walker would publish what has become her best-known work, the novel The
Color Purple. The story of a young black woman fighting her way through not only racist
white culture but patriarchal black culture was a resounding commercial success. The book
became a bestseller and was subsequently adapted into a critically acclaimed 1985 movie
as well as a 2005 Broadway musical play.
Walker has written several other novels, including The Temple of My Familiar and
Possessing the Secret of Joy (which featured several characters and descendants of
characters from The Color Purple) and has published a number of collections of short
stories, poetry, and other published work.
Her works typically focus on the struggles of blacks, particularly women, and their
struggle against a racist, sexist, and violent society. Her writings also focus on the role of
women of color in culture and history. Walker is a respected figure in the liberal political
community for her support of unconventional and unpopular views as a matter of principle.
Additionally, Walker has published several short stories, including the 1973 Everyday
Use, in which she discusses feminism and racism against blacks.
In 1983, The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Walker the first
black woman to win, as well as the National Book Award.
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Walker also won the 1986 O. Henry Award for her short story "Kindred Spirits",
published in Esquire magazine in August of 1985.
In 1997 she was honored by the American Humanist Association as "Humanist
of the Year"
She has also received a number of other awards for her body of work, including:
The Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts
The Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters
The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, the Merrill Fellowship, and a Guggenheim
Fellowship
The Front Page Award for Best Magazine Criticism from the Newswoman's
Club of New York
On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First
Lady Maria Shriver inducted Alice Walker into the California Hall of Fame
located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.
 2. Introduction of the text:
 “Everyday Use” was written in 1973 and it is one of the best-written short stories
by Alice Walker. This short story describes three women, the mother and two
daughters. (1) The mother is a what kind of person? The mother is a working
woman without much education, but still intelligent or perceptive. (2) And the two
daughters are in the sharp contrastive way: they are quite different in appearance,
character and personal experience.
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3. Notes
1). Johnny Carson: a man who runs a late night talk show
2). Jimmy T: T is the initial of the surname of the boy Dee was courting.
3). Polaroid: a camera that produces instant pictures.
4). Chitlins: also chitlings or chitterlings, the small intestines of pigs, used for food, a
common dish in Afro-American households
5). Lone Star pattern: The design on the quilt had, perhaps, a single star
6). Walk Around the Mountain: perhaps a quilt design showing a mountain
Ⅱ. Questions after the detailed study of the text.
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1. In real life what kind of woman is the mother? And what king of woman would
Dee like her mother to be?
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2. What kind of girl is Maggie?
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3. Why do you think colored people asked fewer questions in 1927?
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4. Why did Dee want the quilt so much? And why did Maggie want the quilt?
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5. What is the mother’s feeling toward Dee? How is it changed in the course of the
story?
Ⅲ. Analysis and Appreciation of the text
 1. The outline of the text
 2. Type of literature: a short story
 ---character, action, conflicts, climax and denouement
 3. Main idea:
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 4. Organization of a short novel:
 ---introduction
 ---development
 ---climax
 ---conclusion
Ⅳ. Effective Writing Skills
 1. successful portrayal of characters
 2. using many elliptical and short, simple sentences to achieve certain
effect
 3. using languages which suit the background of characters
Ⅴ.Special difficulties in the text
 1. understanding the underlying meaning conveyed by simple language
 2. understanding and paraphrasing the colloquial, non-standard English
words or sentences
VI . Rhetorical Devices
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1. metaphor:
She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that no is a word
the wourld never learned to say to her.
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2. rhetorical question:
Who ever knew a Johnson with quick tongue?
When did Dee ever have any friends?
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3. simile:
Hair is all over his head a foot long and hanging from his chin like a kinky mule
tail.
It stands straight up like the wool in a sheep.
… about like small lizards disappearing behind her ears.
Maggie’s hand is as limp as a fish.
Maggie’s brain is like an elephant’s.
She gasped like a bee had stung her.
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VII . Detailed study of the text.
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1. extended: prolonged, continued; enlarged in influence, meaning scope, etc.
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2. fine: not coarse, in small particles
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3. be shamed of / be shamed to do sth.
The mother was ashamed of her child’s behavior,
I am ashamed to let you see my paintings.
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4. eye: observe carefully with certain feelings
The cat was eying the fish swimming in the tank.
The boy was eying the man thoughtfully.
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5. palm: the inner surface of the hand between the wrist and the fingers
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6. embrace: hug
She embraced her son warmly.
The boss embraced his suggestions.
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7. bring together:
They were trying to bring together the hostile camps.
I am so glad to have been the means of bringing two young people together.
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8. run over:
We will run over to the shop and get some things.
His eyes ran quickly over the letter to see who wrote it.
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9. stick to
Stick to me and you will not get lost.
When writing an article, please stick to one style throughout.
She made her efforts to stick to her job.
Maggie is sticking to me when the house is burning.
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10. blaze: burn brightly and fiercely
Shine brightly
Bright lights blazed the whole city in the night.
The sun blazed down on the desert.
Show great feeling, esp. anger
His eyes blazed with anger.
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11. stand off:
Nobody liked him and stood off when he came over.
We stood off 5 hundred of enemy troop for 9 days.
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12. stare down: stare at sb. until he feels forced to lower his eyes or turn away
The two children were having a competition to see who could stare the other our/down.
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13. shove: push roughly
Shove off: you aren’t wanted here, shove off.
Shove up: we can get one more in if you shove up.
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14. flicker: burn or shine unsteadily
All the lights flickered for a moment.
Be felt or seen briefly
A faint smile flickered across her face.
A slender hope flickered gently in the breeze.
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15. stumble: strike one’s foot against something and almost fall
I stumbled over a tree root.
She stumbled briefly over the unfamiliar word but then continued.
The child stumbled through a piece by Chopin.
A drunk stumbled past us in the dark.
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16. close down:
The shop will be closed down on Saturday so everything is half price.
The performance is closed down and wish a good night.
Darkness is closed down on the city.
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17. hold up:
We were held up on the road by nasty traffic.
What holds the roof up?
Grandmother always held up his youngest son as a model.
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18. hang about:
Don’t hang about, we have to catch the train.
This cough has been hanging about for 2 weeks long.
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19. follow up with:
The salesman often follows up a letter with a visit.
The chairman followed up with another question.
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20. a blue steak: anything regarded as like a streak of lightening in speed, vividness, etc.
She talked a blue streak. = She talked much and rapidly.
He can read a blue streak.
VIII. Assignment
 Write a short composition on – My Family
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