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.
Alice Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia on February 9th 1944. On her journey to success she worked as a social worker, teacher and thereafter she became a lecturer. She was also part and parcel of the Civil Right Movement in Mississippi during the 1960’s. Apart from being a reputable poet and writer, Walker also won herself a Pulitzer award for fiction on account of her 1982 novel “The Color Purple”. “Everyday use” is a short story found in Walker’s (1973) collection “In love and in Trouble”. The short story reflects on the life of African Americans who are living against their cultural norms and it also gives us reasons that explain why this situation exists in the African American society.
A simple powerful story of a rural family that contains a returned changed daughter leaves a family in surprise. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker demonstrates that the theme of the story that consists different views of heritage by using literary elements like characterization, imagery, and settings. Each literary element holds a strong value to define the meaning of heritage from different perspectives of the characters. Alice Walker demonstrates it by Mama, Maggie, and Dee by how they each value their heritage by the things that they have left from their ancestors.
“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.
People always suggest others to be themselves. To not care about what others have to say about you. People try to ignore society 's opinion about them, not realizing the importance it plays in identity. For a person to feel identified, they must have similarities or differences, and some type of involvement. Identity involves a combination of how you see yourself and how others see you. How others see you is influenced by material, social, and physical constraints. This causes a tension between how much control you have in constructing your own identity and how much control or constraint is exercised over you. How we see ourselves and how others see us differ in many ways, but is an important factor of our identity. “A Lesson Before Dying”,
In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the meaning of heritage is admired differently by a family of the same background. Dee who now has an education and understands her heritage feud with Mama and Maggie who appreciate their heritage. Although they all come from the same household, their differences get in the way when it comes to the most valuable items in the house; including the churn and dasher that Mama and Maggie still use daily, the handmade quilts made by Grandma Dee, and how Dee is blinded by the truth of her own heritage.
Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo [Dee] is a fascinating character in “Everyday Use” written by Alice Walker. The story is over an African American mother and her two daughters. The story focuses on one daughter, Dee that is coming home to visit her family. She grew up wanting to become a different a person, and she hated how she lived when she was with her mom and sister. Dee is spoiled, tenacious, and ignorant in this short story.
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” illustrates Dee’s struggle for identity by placing her quest for a new identity against her family’s desire for maintaining culture and heritage. In the beginning, the narrator, who is the mother of Dee, mentions some details about Dee; how she “...wanted nice things… She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts… At sixteen, she had a style of her own: and (she) knew what style was.” Providing evidence to the thesis, she was obviously trying exceptionally hard to find for herself a sense of identity. She wanted items her family couldn’t afford, so she worked hard to gain these, and she found a sense of identity from them, but it also pushed her farther away from her family. As the story progresses,
In the story, Dee is presented to the audience as someone who enjoys nice things and “had a style of her own: and knew what style was.” She wears the typical Americanized clothing style common to that time period. However, when she arrives at her family’s home, her family finds that she has completely altered her style: Walker writes in description of Dee, “A dress to the ground, in this hot weather. A dress so loud it hurts my eyes. There are yellow and oranges enough to throw back the light…It is her sister’s hair. It stands up straight up like the wool on a sheep…and around the edges are two long pigtails…” For Dee, the changing of her hair and clothing is a way for her to further the change of her identity. Although it is not explicitly stated, one can infer from the context of which the story was written, and by the description of her clothing, that Dee has begun to identify herself as African. At some point during the time away from her family, she adopted an African style of dress: she wears a dress with bright colors such as yellow and orange in a flowing style that is typical of native Africans, and begins wearing her hair in a more natural style that is also typical to native Africans. Nguyen and Brown explain the importance of clothing for identity, “Clothing and other forms of style are also reported to signify ethnic and cultural identity and used to differentiate among types of
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.
In the short stories we have read there have been numerous themes. The impact of tradition, the value of heritage, the importance of family, the divide between social classes, and the presence of love are all ideas that can be found in the stories we have read. Short stories have managed to encapture the importance and true meaning of life in just a few sentences by imposing on the readers themes we can all relate to. A common theme presented in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” is the power of knowledge and education.
Alice walker in Everyday Use demonstrates the understanding of African American heritage. Understanding your heritage is important because you should always look back on where you came from. Where you came from is such a big part of who you are and is something know one can take away from you. When you understand your heritage, you get to pass it on to others. Walker does this by using characterization, symbolism, and theme.
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