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Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

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In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, Mama describes both the personalities and relationships of the two sisters Dee and Maggie. Although the sisters spend a lot of time together throughout the story, they are portrayed as total opposites of each other. Both sisters highly differ from one another throughout the story. Dee is seen more as a static character, whereas Maggie goes through changes, thus making her a dynamic character.
Mama says that Maggie isn’t very confident in herself due to the burns that she has on her face and arms because of a house fire that happened about twelve years ago. Maggie is described as someone who is not very pretty or bright neither. Throughout the story, she shows signs of envy towards her sister Dee.
Although Walker portrays Maggie as a girl with many flaws, there seem to be a few positive attributes to Maggie’s character. Maggie knows a lot about her family history. What she lacks in book smarts, she makes up for in knowledge of her background. Walker uses imagery to convey Maggie’s personality and other traits. The author describes how Maggie resembles a “dog run over by a car” (476).
Walker does not use much dialogue to convey Maggie’s character. Although Maggie seems quiet, the few words that she does speak throughout the story are very telling about her personality. For example, Dee admires all the things in the kitchen and Maggie knows that Uncle Buddy whittled the churn out of an old tree they have, then when she comes across the dasher, she wasn’t sure who had whittled that. When Dee looked to Mama for the answer, it was Maggie who answered, showing that she has a little more spark than what appears to the reader. Although Maggie knows who whittled the dash, the tone th...


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... with the people that some might refer to as old fashioned and learning from their well-being and embracing what they have to say.
Maggie’s development also adds to the message that Walker is trying to portray throughout the story, because Maggie’s character embodies the essence of “Everyday Use”. In “Everyday Use”, Walker really wants to emphasize the importance of a person’s family history and how important it is to know about each individual’s family history.
Maggie, although not very pretty nor intelligent, knows much about her family history. Walker shows that it’s not always about flash and obnoxiously showing that someone knows about their heritage and culture. It’s more about the idea that someone can quietly sit back without having to put on a show and be assured that because he or she knows their history, he or she will know a lot more about themselves.



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