Good Example Of Essay On “Everyday Use” & “Ranch Girl”
The essay will compare and contrast the main characters of two famous short stories, Everyday Use, by author Alice Walker, and Ranch Girl, written by Maile Meloy. The similarities and differences of the mother in Everyday Use are compared to the girl sharing her life experience in Ranch Girl. The focus on the characters roles in life as pertains to their relationships with others in their lives, is one point to examine. Other aspect of the characters to consider are the outlook, personality types, and perspectives on the lives they lead, which is displayed through the writing.
The characters from both stories play an obligatory role to a loved one in their lives. The mother from Everyday Use is the care taker of her daughter Maggie who she lives with. The young woman in Ranch Girl shares a home with her father who she looks after. Each character has experienced being left by a loved one for a better life outside the slow country life that they lead. The difference is that the mother is left by her daughter who moves away, whereas the other story has the daughter who is left behind with her father by her mother, who wants to live in town. Dee, who is the one of the daughter’s in Everyday Use, leaves the mother and her sister Maggie to go to college and live what appears to be a more fulfilling life. Similarly, the ranch girl’s mother also leaves her and her father to manage life alone, so that she could pursue a life that she prefers. Each character experiences the separation from a selfish family member who wants more out of life for themselves without consideration for the feelings of the main characters.
The young girl in Ranch Girl has a romantic connection with a boy named Andy who she wishes to marry one day. However, the mother from Everyday Use is only focused on life with her daughter Maggie, no love interest. The ranch girl also experiences the terrible loss when Andy, the boy she loves, tragically dies from a car accident; but the mother in Everyday Use does not face an emotional turmoil of loss from death. Instead she seems to feel heartbreak for her daughter Maggie when she realizes the pain she suffers by always allowing Dee to have all the good things in life.
I want to state the similar circumstance of poverty is common to the lives of both characters. It may be the reason for the humble attitude of the mother, as well as the ranch girl, which are evident in both personality traits. They both seem to hold their values close to their heart in how they make their choices. Both the mother from Everyday Use and the young woman from Ranch Girl share a life of hard labor working with animals, cows in particular. Another similarity in the work that they do is that much of their time is spent outdoors in nature. The difference is that ranch girl does not have the tough attitude that is present in the mother who talks about how she has slaughtered animals and been able survive some physically challenging situations. The ranch girl appears much more delicate and feminine compared to the mother.
An interesting literary point that I notice as I write about each of these characters is how the reader is never informed of their names. Neither character shares their name at any point throughout the narrative, but they mention the names of all the characters in the story with them. I could also see that one character had dreams that she was hoping to achieve in life, but the other one was only living for the life she had set. Ranch girl initially dreamt of marriage and a family, but ended up in college; whereas, the mother only imagines herself remaining in her house after her second daughter marries and leaves. The mother has no big aspirations that could take her away from her home. She shows a solid sense of contentment in her simple life in her house on the pasture. The ranch girl does not show this sentiment as she tells her tale; however, the reader is completely aware of her attachment to living in her small country town. It is almost as if she is not ready to tell herself that she wants this simple country life. This discovery does not come until the very end of the story, but for the mother in Everyday Use there is no mystery to her feelings about her life and where she is. The mother is also very brazen in how she speaks to the people around her, but the ranch girl seems to be more withdrawn in her expression of herself as she interacts with the other characters in the story.
Although my initial impression of both short stories did not provide me with signs of any similarities, upon an in depth analysis of the main characters several commonalities were found. The relationships in their lives had parallels, as well as the setting of each story. The characters most similar theme was of their country life of hard labor and poverty. The differences were primarily in the completely different character traits that each displayed in their approach to life. The pinnacle of each story ends with the confirmation of each character having realized what is most valuable and important to them, their simple country lives. Although the mother has always understood her attachment to her life in the country, she did not realize the importance of her daughter Maggie as part of the key to her happiness. This is the reality she discovers in the end, as the ranch girl discovers her love of the country life.
James, M., Merickle, A. P., Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 5th ed. Longman. 2013.