Aesthetic Image of the Animal Epithet in Alice Walker's Short Story "Everyday Use"

Shaimaa Hadi Radhi


In her short story Everyday Use, the African American writer Alice Walker labels her female characters Mrs. Johnson, and her two daughters: Maggie, and Dee by associating them with an animal quality. In my present paper I attempt to show the central and pivotal role played by the mechanism of 'Animal Epithet' in order to investigate to what extent does the writer apply the theory of 'Womanism' to her short fiction's protagonist and the other characters. Walker wants the reader to share her investigation journey in order to find a logical answer for the crucial questions raised in the research-paper: Why does Walker portray female characters by comparing them to animals? How does Walker manage to treat this topic aesthetically? What portrait of black woman does she prove? To answer these central questions, Walker is committed to construct her short narrative work on the base of the key elements of inversion, signifying, and quilting-like. Walker, as a womanist and animal activist is defiant and ridiculous of the mainstream agent of humanism represented by white males. She aesthetically inverts the meaning of the negative, dehumanizing image devised and everyday used by the men of ruling class into aesthetic and positive one to represent the identity of black women.


aesthetic inversion, Alice Walker, Everyday Use, image of animal, Womanism

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