Professor Joe Sarnowski’s academic journal criticizes the characters of the story, “Every Day Use”. He examines the conflict between the mother and her oldest daughter, Dee. Sarnowski asserts that Dee is trying to justify her personal gain, since she cherishes the economic value of the quilts more than that of the heritage they represent. The author continues to compare Dee’s ego with that of her sister Maggie. Who in contrast, has true appreciation for her heritage. Furthermore, Sarnowski acknowledges mother’s disappointment as Maggie gives up the quilts, pointing out that they represent memories of family members. The author believes that displaying these quilts will disintegrate the sense of family history they carry. Consequently,
“Maggie will be nervous until her sister goes.”(Pg.50 line7) This is quote from the story Everyday Use by Alice Walker. The story revolves around a girl called Dee, her mom and sister Maggie. They have different opinions on different subjects especially relating to heritage. Dee is also really selfish which makes her have tension between her family since she only cares about herself. Throughout the story, there were a lot of conflicts between Dee and her family which shows with the quilt incident, butter churn controversy and lastly different views on heritage.
The mom begins the story by talking about her daughters. She sees Dee as the prettier and the smarter daughter. The mom says that “No is a word the world never learned to her”. The mom says this because Dee is spoiled and always gets what she wants. . Mom knows that Dee has irregular ways and is not necessarily like her or Maggie, but she in some ways looks up to Dee and longs for Dee to accept her. (Nancy Tuten) agrees by saying, "Mama's distaste for Dee's egotism is tempered by her desire to be respected by her daughter.” The Mom’s character changes during the quilt scene, as she realizes that Maggie shares the appreciation of culture and heritage, and Dee's appreciation is entirely different from theirs. During the quilt scene, Dee is demanding Mom to give her the quilts, and Mom says, "when I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet.” In other words the daughter who she has always thought so highly of knew little of their culture and had little appreciation for their heritage. Walker creates the “mom” character to help defend her point, which is the importance of upholding the values and traditions in the African American
Most people struggle with figuring out who they really are. The short story "Everyday Use,” written by Alice Walker, emphasizes this aspect of individuality. It is about an African- American mother and her two daughters. The story concentrates on the lives of two sisters named Maggie and Dee(Wangero). Maggie is portrayed as a homely and ignorant girl, while Dee is portrayed as a beautiful and educated woman. For some of my family the search for individuality is an ongoing process. In fact, my family and the family in “Everyday Use” share similarities and differences when it comes to actions of young people, the treatment of children, and relationships between family members.
The comparison of characters is something an author allows us to do while reading a
Dee is a girl who lived with her mom and her sister Maggie, but she wasn’t like them at all, she was different than her sister and her mother. Mama was collecting money to take Dee to school in Augusta. Dee liked to be fashionable, she always wanted nice things.
In the short story” Everyday Use” by Alice Walker who tells a story about black women who have two daughters Maggie and Dee. She has to have the decision to give the quilts of one of her two daughters. Dee her oldest daughter who has been away at college and comes to visit her family and she wants the quilts as popular fashion and show them as part of their heritage. Maggie, her youngest daughter, who lives with her mother at home and understands the family tradition and heritage.her mother has been promised to give the quilts for her. The quilts mean for Maggie communication with family and culture.So there are two different meaning of heritage because The two sister has a very different attitude toward their heritage. However, the truer one is Maggie’s concept of heritage because it means for her more than a shown popular fashion “things“ it means to love and connection to memories and people.
The story Everyday Use was written by Alice walker. Alice walker was an American author, poet and activist. She has written many novels, poems and stories. She wrote both fiction and nonfiction books. Everyday use was one of her books and it was published in 1973. This story talks about a family that consists of the mother (narrator) and her two daughters’ (Dee and Maggie). In the story they never say anything about the father because he was dead. The main things that the story is revolving around is the heritage and how it is important, the relationship between the two sisters, how education makes a differences, and finally about how generations changed by time.
In the story, “Everyday Use,” the oldest sister Dee redefines her views of her family’s heritage. Dee leaves her rural home to receive an education in the city, but when returning back home she has changed completely. Specifically, Dee changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo which creates difficulties for her mother. In the story Dee explains, “Couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me" (Walker 318). She views her past name as a reminder that African Americans are not given original names. Dee has also changed her overall appearance and has recreated a new image for herself by wearing brightly colored clothing and changing her voice. Critic of the story, David Cowart, describes Dee changes, “She now styles and dresses herself according to the dictates of a faddish Africanism and thereby demonstrates a cultural Catch-22: an American who attempts to become an African succeeds only in becoming a phony” (Cowart). She alienates herself from her original culture and values the items from her past
Alice Walker’s Everyday Use (rpt. in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine’s Literature Sound and Structure 11th ed [Boston: Wadsworth, 2012] 166-173) is a short story told by the mother of two daughters, Mama. The story tells the tale of the return of Mama’s oldest daughter, Dee, and the problems that Dee’s return causes for Mama and her youngest daughter, Maggie. This short story includes humor and irony, displays detailed characterization, and portrays a very effective point of view. These three literary elements contribute to this story by giving insight into the past and the true personalities of the characters, and the way the characters have changed over time.
“Dee” does not share in the recognition and reverence of their culture even though her mother does. She describes this type of culture as a fragile heritage and she points out the aspect of clothing and design as a reason. She considers the dress code by her grandfather and mother an outdated mode of living. Dee wants to go by the current standards of life and she cannot have a second thought about this. Being an African American she comes out strongly to condemn the oppression that the blacks underwent in the hands of the whites. She makes this factor a pillar for her argument saying that she cannot be identified with a name that originates from people who oppressed them and still oppress them. In other words, Dee is speaking from a vengeance point of view, “I couldn’t bare it any longer, being named after people who oppress me” (Everyday use p.53) and via this she now helps us to understand the reason as to why she dropped her original name and took another. This step seems satisfactory for her but in real sense it is betrayal to her own heritage, we can say that she is fighting a lost battle. Walker (1973) gives Dee a character that is full of ignorance and arrogance and by doing so she is able to achieve the theme of betrayal of heritage. Through displaying her arrogance and ignorance betrayal is then brought out clearly right from the family level and even the church which ensured became a better person in the future. This has brought a conflict between her, the mother and her sister because she sees them as enemies of her progress and yet they are the people who pioneered her future life by ensuring that they use every means possible to ensure that she is in school. The use of rhetorical question by Walker (1973) enables us to comprehend her major concern while writing this short story, “Who shall inherit the quilts?” (Walker 1973) this question shows that the
“the quilts are the central symbol of the story representing the connectedness of history and intergenerational tries of the family” (“everyday use”). This means that the quilts mean heritage and remind the daughters of grand mom dee. The quilts are fought over at the end of the story because of the meaning of them. One daughter wants them for everyday use and one wants them just to have them because it means heritage to her. The mother at the end of the story agrees that they should be used for everyday use. “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts! She said. “she’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.” (walker). This shows that dee really wants the quilts but not for the reason her mother wants. Mrs. Johnson ends up giving Maggie the quilts for the right
When Dee practically demands the quilts promised to Maggie, Maggie automatically forfeits them without complaint. She never takes the time to battle her sister and she doesn't lose her composure. She, akin to a defenseless child, gives in to the pressure of Dee. "She can have them, [the quilts] Mama,” She is far more worried about keeping the peace and hiding from the commotion than defending what belongs to her. This professes Maggie to be a very complacent and scared girl, especially in the face of her sister Dee. She deliberately avoids her and her new sense of self-righteousness. Maggie's lack of exposure to society makes her weak in her sister's eyes and vulnerable to her sister's pretentious attitude toward what is owed to Maggie. Dee disturbs the peace by proclaiming, "Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!” It is clear that Dee believes that she deserves to receive whatever she wants, yet Maggie never fights for what she is already entitled
A constant comparison and contrast between Maggie and Dee is prominent structural feature of the narrative. This structural strategy helps in conceptualizing the plurality of female experience within the same milieu. This strategy encapsulates another dimension of womanism, viz., womanism refuses to treat black woman as a homogeneous monolith. Unlike feminist position, womanism is sensitive to change with time. This womanist conceptualization is shown by a nuanced destruction by Dee’s response to the quilt, which is the main metaphor in the story. A typical political rhetoric is represented in the character of Dee. This is a rhetoric which is more aggressive than mature, showier than subtle. Dee ends up in simplifying and commodifying culture, instead of relating it to any meaningful way. She comes out as a being who takes activism as a fad rather than a commitment. And, womanism here represented through Mama, calls for a critical relatedness to the heritage. The narrative articulates the shallowness of Dee’s
In the short story “Everyday Use” Alice Walker takes the reader through a world that was in the midst of a radical change. A time when new affluence was coming to a generation of African Americans. Walker’s generation knew nothing but hardships, and they had to make due with whatever they happened to have around. Therefore, many of the items which Dee and Maggie see in the course of the story have radically different meanings. Dee, having had the advantage of leaving home to go to college, had her life changed by the lifestyle she was introduced to in the city. When she came home again, her view of the items which Maggie and her mother considered as everyday use items had taken on a whole new meaning to her, she now saw them as artifacts instead of things which were useful. This new outlook on her life caused Dee to place different values on the items with which she had grown up. She wanted to take the items as things to put on display like art hanging on a wall. Dee even wanted the cherished quilts to “hang them” (Walker, 1973) instead of using them as blankets. As she saw it, to use the quilts for their original purpose would destroy them, or as she said, “Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they 'd be in rags” (Walker, 1973). This is a scenario that has played out many times over the course of human history. Things which have only a utilitarian value to the present generation, take on an aura of