Comparison/contrast of characters Mama in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and the grandmother in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” – Essay Sample

Story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is told by the “Mama” character, namely Mrs. Johnson, in the first person. Narrator of the story is a middle aged African-American woman who lives with Maggie, her younger daughter. Being poor but with a strong will and independence, Mrs. Johnson proves to be a female with the great pride in her way of life. Mama is overweight and her compaction is more like that of a man than a woman. Her strong big hands have seen a lot of lifetime of work.

Woman grew up in the place where colored people had lots of difficulties. She had to support her family. Back when she was young, Mama had very few civil liberties and she even comments that after second grade, “the school was closed down.” (Walker, 745) Mrs. Johnson is a spiritual woman who sings lots of church songs. Her behavior she often compared to the things she could have done. She has a rich and deep personality. Despite her hard life, she stays strong. Woman is happy with the life she has and was given. Mrs. Johnson is proud for being who she is and she is glad that she can support her family because she can work as a man. No matter that there are not much exciting things going on in Mama’s life, she is very happy.

Her character differs strongly from that of her daughters’. Dee and Maggie are different personalities. Maggie while growing up did not have to experience all the limitations that existed during Mama’s childhood. And Dee is the one who compared to Mama strikes to take the best of life and not just be happy for what you are given.

Moving on to another character, namely an unnamed grandmother, from the story of Flannery O’Connor “A Good Man is Hard to Find” reader sees another side of the human personality coin. Being a dynamic person, woman turns from an anxious and selfish old maid to a motherly and graceful woman. But the change happens too late.

As the story goes grandmother is an obstinate female who tells her family that she does not want to go to Florida. Woman is used to acting how she wants and get what she needs. By trying to persuade the relatives and change their minds, she uses various techniques of influence, like using guilt and begging. The family, however, does not want to change their plans and still takes road to Florida. On their trip grandmother talks children into visiting an old house she knows and misleads the driver off the right direction. Family gets into a not so big accident and eventually ends up murdering by a killer Misfit.

The character of grandmother is not a deep one. She is a woman who worries too much about herself and what is best only for her. Even when the family faced supposedly a Misfit, grandmother’s primary actions were to save herself. When she fails, she becomes silent and that is the changing moment in her personality. She spoke to Misfit about Jesus, she even called him her “child” (O’Connor, 20). However, the killer was not human. He and his friend kill the whole family. Grandmother has changed but her new life lasted only minutes.

Two characters Mama and grandmother show how different the two personalities can be. Even though two females come from the South, their appreciation of life and personal values cardinally vary. While one woman is centered on selfish basic needs and self-esteem, another one is the representation of gratitude and grace. Two women in my opinion represent two sides of a human personality coin. However, fate and faith make priorities. To each her own.


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