Dee has always demanded for her way of life. Mama and Maggie are acclimated to this and give Dee her way to save a headache. Towards the end of the story though, Mama sees things differently. It is almost as if she has built the courage to stand up to her. Dee starts kind of demanding for the quilts because Maggie “can’t appreciate these quilts” (Walker 16).
All her life she manages the best she can for her kids. She feels pity for her Maggie, who is very shy. Maggie experienced a traumatic event that her scars made her unconfident and unable to make any eye contact. Her sister Dee, on the contrary, is educated and confident. Mama with the help of the community did everything possible to raise money and send her to school.
Maybe she was worried what she’d do with the information. Maybe the memory of what happened to Hannah’s aunt was to painful to bring up. Regardless of the reason, the effect of her inaction remains the same. Between Hannah and her mother was a gap of information crucial to understanding the mother’s feelings for her daughter. Because she didn’t fill that gap, an even wider emotional gap grew between them.
Although the girls would love to go home, returning home would upset their parents and cause them to be ashamed of the girls. Therefore, the family shame motivates the girls to ignore their natural urge to return home to the forest in order to honor their parents’ wishes. In another example, Claudette acknowledges the shame that would come with failure: “But we knew we couldn’t return to the woods; not till we were civilized, not if we didn’t want to break the mother’s heart” (Russell 232). The girls’ wish to avoid shame causes them to continue to remain at St. Lucy’s and assimilate a culture that is not their own. Through this shame, the girls are pushed to immerse themselves entirely into human behaviors.
When Laila’s parents were killed and she was injured, Mariam took her in and sacrificed her time and space in order to take care of Laila (199). Mariam didn’t have kids of her own, yet took care of Laila as if she were her own daughter. She cared enough for the young girl’s well being to take her in and show her kindness. When Rasheed is about to kill Laila, Mariam hits Rasheed with a shovel so hard that it kills him (349). She viewed Laila as her own daughter, and she wasn’t going to let anyone hurt her daughter.
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,
During the time when racism was an ongoing crisis, African Americans had no choice to put their pride aside, ignore their differences and show fear in order to survive. Surviving in those times consisted of being treated like nothing, crucial things being done to you or a member of your family while your instinct tells you to fight back to stand up for yourself but your pride and the thought of living kicks in, bringing you back to reality. In Nurturing Anger by Jacqueline Ellis, she examines anger and considers its complications for black young girls who were adopted by white women. In this passage she states “Repressing anger is a means of survival”. During the time when racism was a huge issue, there were many things you were opted out of doing due to the color of your skin and whether you wanted to survive in a white-dominated community.
This also influenced the barrier between Dee and her family in which they have different ways of interpreting their values. According to Mama, Dee “never taken a shot without mak’ing sure the house is included” which portrays how dee is using them as a product for her own heritage while still maintaining a barrier between them. Also since Dee was raised having “nice things” she never wanted to recognize her past as growing up in a poverty setting because she was embarrassed of it. When Dee changed her name to “ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” she believed she was staying true to her heritage by having an African name, but she failed to realize her real name ‘Dee’ was passed down several generations back to when her family were slaves. Dee has changed her clothing as well to fit her new beliefs and it is the traditional African clothing which Mama finds peculiar because that was not how she raised her daughters.
The Story of the Vargas Family “Rosa Vargas’ kids are too many and too much. It’s not her fault, you know, except she is their mother and only one against so many” (Cisneros 29). In the novel The House on Mango Street, the author, Sandra Cisneros, touches on the many negative consequences of a single, impoverished mother raising an overwhelming amount of children. Poverty, discrimination, parental and neighborly responsibility, and respect are all issues and social forces that act upon the family; their presence or lack thereof cause several grisly occurrences to take place. Poverty was almost like a curse given to Rosa Vargas by her husband, who “left without even leaving a dollar for bologna or a note explaining how come” (29).
This prominent incident has lead Adah to establish a clinical yet indifferent attitude towards relationships and this mindset persists throughout her entire life. This conviction is further reinforced by the “ant tide” incident in which Adah was deemed to be of lesser value to her mother Orleanna Price. Adah's distraught emotions are clearly felt as she states, “ help me”(305). Adah’s first words to her mother yet she was “left behind”(306). Her mother as everyone else has viewed Adah a lesser than those who are able body or whole.