Sample Paper Outline, Expository Essay

Remember essay format! There should be a clear
beginning, middle, and end. The parts should logically
flow and connect together. Think of the pieces as
building blocks. Get specific and engage directly with the
text. Do not just speak around it in generalizations.
Remember that the essay should go beyond identification
and definition. It should make connections between the
device and thematic meaning in the text.
Title: Stitching History—Passing Down Heritage in
Walker’s “Everyday Use”
I. Introduction
A. Provide a couple of sentences on Walker and
“Everyday Use.”
1.In an interview with Walker for his book on
African-American quilters, Roland Freeman asks
her "what she would like to say to people in
general about quilting." Walker replies,
"That they should learn to do it. That they should think less
about collecting quilts and give more thought to making
them. It may do all kinds of good things, too, to collect
what others have made, but I think that it is essential that
we know how to express, you know, our own sense of
connection. And there is no better sense of understanding
our own creation than to create, and so we should do
B. Emphasize quilting as a metaphor for heritage in
the story and its connection to POV.
C. Thesis: The Mother’s POV highlights different
systems of identifying with place and one’s heritage
through her view of Maggie and Dee; however, by
telling the story from her perspective, Walker reveals
an affinity between the Mother and Maggie and the
heritage she embraces.
II. Mom’s POV of Dee
A. Dee is ashamed of them, arrogant, materialistic,
embraces false words.
1. Distance between them (game show example).
2. Reading to them (lies and story’s not their
3. Almost happy the house burnt down. (dance
B. Dee seeks roots in Africa.
1. Dress, etc (p67)
2. Greets Mother in foreign tongue.
3. Changes name to Wangero. Only sees the
oppressor in Dee rather than family naming
C. Dee wants to collect her country American
heritage rather than embrace it.
1. Snaps pictures of the house.
2. Desires churn for decoration.
3. Desires quilt b/it is priceless
III. Mom’s POV of Maggie.
A. Maggie is quiet, humble, and homely.
B. Maggie knows family history.
1. Maggie knows who whittled the dasher. She
even knows his nickname.
2. She can remember her grandma without the
quilts. (qte p69)
3. Her history is literally burned into her.
Image of Mom holding her and her burnt skin
sticking to her. Her hair and dress smoking and
falling off. The two embracing symbolically
connect them to the burning house and by
extension history.
C. Maggie knows quilt making.
1. She’ll not only be able to fix them, but she’ll
be able to incorporate them in her own quilts (her
own history).
2. Her quilting has been handed down to her by
two generations. (This thought touches the
mother and sparks her spiritual reaction.)
IV. POV textual evidence suggests that Mom sides with
Maggie’s perception of history.
A. Description of land/living rooms and of self.
B. Dee reads to them “forcing words, lies, and other
folks’ habits” (66)
C. Mom thinks Dee is glad the house burned.
“Why don’t you dance around the ashes I wanted to
ask her?” (66)
D. Insistence on naming “Dee” as an AfricanAmerican family tradition. It exists in spite of
E. Description of the pieces in the quilt and who they
come from. (p69)
1. bits of Grandma’s dress
2. small piece of grandpa’s union uniform
F. Recognition of her place in a line of generational
G. Snatching the quilts back. (The reclaiming!)
V. Conclusion
A. Re-emphasize thesis. As I have demonstrated,
POV plays a crucial role in the thematic meaning of
this story. Not only does it highlight different ways
of embracing identity and heritage through Dee and
Maggie, but it also aligns the Mother with Maggie
and a sense of an African-American identity that
exists because of the shared experiences on the land.
B. End by looking at the irony of Dee’s statement
that the mother doesn’t know her
heritage in light of the POV put forth by the mother.
Ultimately, the Mother’s point of view not only
undermines Dee’s, but it also validates Maggie and
the symbolism of her burn marks. Maggie is left
happy and on the porch with her Mother, while Dee
races off to who knows what.
For Thursday (2/1):
 Bring your handbooks for in-class writing exercises.
 Due: A typed outline of your expository essay.