The Character of Dee in Everyday Use
Length: 636 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)
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While reading the story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, I found that I had a surprising amount of anger towards the character named Dee, or as she prefers Wangero. The anger that was instilled in me was caused by numerous comments and actions that occurred throughout reading the short story. I feel she was selfish, uneducated and unappreciative of her past and that the way she carried herself was ridiculous.
Right from the beginning of my readings you are introduced to a character named Dee, before you ever get the opportunity to warm up to her character, she shows a very selfish characteristic and that trait is repeatedly brought out in the story. From the start, shortly after the introduction to her new boyfriend, Dee begins to ask for things. For instance, the desk and the chair, Dee wants to take them to help spice up her and Hakim the Barber's house when those objects are still in "everyday use" in their own home. Another instance is when she asks her mother for the quilts her grandmother had quilted, her mother said they were for Maggie (Dee's sister), Dee's reply was that Maggie wouldn't appreciate the quilts and Maggie, being the beautiful person she is, says her older sister can have them.
Another reason I had feelings of anger for the character Dee, was that she was uneducated. Not the usual education, such as in college, because she had that, but the education of her heritage, or past. The second statement to her mother was when her mother says "Dee", Dee replied saying her new name Wangero, followed by the statement that Dee is dead and that she could no longer bear the name of the people that oppress her. At no point during the story was Dee oppressed or even mentioned being oppressed in the past. Then she tries to track back where her name came from, to show her mother it was a slave name or something along those lines. Her mother tracked it back as far as she could remember and no such thing was pointed out. To move on to another situation where Dee made herself look foolish and uneducated is, when they are leaving, she tells her mother that she just doesn't understand.
When her mother asks what she doesn't understand, Dee replied, "your heritage", when the mother knows exactly where she came from and is still living that life, Dee feels she can tell her mother where she came from?
What crossed the line in my opinion of Dee was that she was completely unappreciative. I had gotten the feeling that the mother in the story had worked long and hard raising her daughters, supplied food and clothes, and even got Dee into college somehow, and Dee returns with her college education and new personality trying to preach to her mother and sister about what they are doing wrong. Numerous times she spoke down, not only to the mother, but little sister also. Then Dee begins to take their personal property, property she didn't want earlier when she had been asked.
The reason for my writing on this story and this topic is clear. While reading this piece, I had actually gotten emotionally worked up and angered by the actions of the character Dee. I call her Dee and not Wangero throughout my writings because I felt the change she made was for all the wrong reasons. You see this everyday, people claiming alliances or changing themselves into something that they are not and know nothing about. Dee came off as selfish, uneducated and unappreciative to say the least. In reality her sister and mother are aware of their heritage and know where they come from, the only questions is, when will Dee?