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Comparing “Everyday Use” and “The Devil and Tom Walker”


Alice Walker’s Everyday Use tells about Dee’s gradual abandonment of her heritage while her younger sister, Maggie, grows to embrace who she is as a person. Washington Irving’s The Devil and Tom Walker is a short story about Tom Walker, a man who thinks he outsmarted the devil, only to fall into the trap that the devil had always planned for. The difference in theme between these two short stories is that Everyday Use focuses on the importance of culture and heritage, while The Devil and Tom Walker reveal the importance of being true to one’s faith and how people should not tease something bigger than them.

Another difference between the two short stories can be found with the main characters. In Everyday Use, Dee is self-centered and is very rejecting towards her background. She puts her sister down for being a simple-minded girl. Maggie, on the other hand, has the utmost respect for her heritage, something that Mama is quick to reward. Tom Walker in The Devil and Tom Walker starts the story off as being self-centered, caring very little for others. This behavior is similar to that of Dee’s, but Tom eventually makes attempts to be compassionate for others. Unfortunately, when he can no longer put up with the charade, Tom resorts to his selfish behavior.

A similarity that can be found between Everyday Use and The Devil and Tom Walker is that Dee, the antagonist in the first story, and Tom Walker both come to the ending of their story having not learned their lesson. Dee walks out of her mother’s house being as indifferent about her heritage as ever, and Tom Walker is taken by the devil before he even realizes what is about to happen to him. They let their dislikes and the inabilities to drop their stubborn ways to get the better of them.

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