Dee Versus Maggie: A Struggle For Self-Understanding Essay

Dee Versus Maggie: A Struggle For Self-Understanding Essay

Length: 1450 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The twenties, a time marred by prohibition and television's implantations, were widely known as a time of struggles such as the Great Depression and the beginning of what later became known as women's rights. However, presumably the greatest struggle was that of ‘colored' people. Because of limited resources, limited speech, and limited economic opportunities many ‘colored' people sought ways to escape ‘everyday' life and the hardships they often faced. One of these ways came by beginning to express themselves more freely. In addition, as a result, the Harlem Renaissance formed. In "Everyday Use", Alice Walker, one of the frontrunners of the Harlem Renaissance, tells the story of an oppressed and under-privileged African American family with differing values on what it means to live, or more importantly, of one who struggles with understanding of their present life in relation to the traditions of their ancestors and culture. The audience is introduced to both girls at the beginning of the story. From the narrator's vivid description of the girls, the reader quickly forms a distinction between the two daughters. The way Maggie walks is compared to that of "a dog run over by a careless rich person" (453). However, Dee is described as "lighter than Maggie, with nice hair and a fuller figure" (454). Just from the physical description, the readers can infer that Dee is the "prettier" of the two. Though they are totally opposites in physical features, both girls share a central theme. Alice Walker uses something as simple as a quilt to develop the central theme. This theme is that both daughters, Dee and Maggie, are confused about the meaning of their heritage. However, Dee's confusion is a result of her not wanting to acc...

... middle of paper ... a symbol of the past, but only in a sense that she must move on and never look back. On the other hand, Maggie sees the quilt as something she could use everyday in order to relive the ways of her ancestors in combination with her future life and aspirations. Though Maggie is limited in beauty and education when compared to Dee, Maggie is way ahead of Maggie in a stage of self-understanding. Maggie knows her abilities and respects what she has. However, Dee has no disabilities and could care less about her ancestors. Dee's ultimate goal is to feel distant from her ancestors, while Maggie's ultimate goal is to feel as one with her ancestors and their way of life. The saying that ‘you must know where you come from in order to know where you are headed' is exemplified in this story. Without an understanding of the past, you can have no true self-understanding.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Use of Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

- Pieces of fabric stitched together, to us, may seem like a quilt used to cover oneself for warmth. However, in Everyday Use a quilt is used to symbolize the family heritage passed down from generation to generation. Symbolism is when an object such as a crucifix is used to depictsomething greater like a religion and not justa piece of wood. A crucifix can also be used to represent the pain held by man and the heavy burden we carry each day. Many authors, including Alice Walker, use symbolism in order to get the reader to have a sense of deeper meaning within the story....   [tags: crucifix, quilt, family heritage, self conscious]

Powerful Essays
1462 words (4.2 pages)

Symbolic References in Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

- Symbolism is the taking of an object big or small, and giving it something to stand for. It could be your everyday math symbols for addition, subtraction, division, and etc. Although math symbols are perfect examples of symbolism, there’s also objects that can be more than what they are. For example animals, Lions are known to be symbolized as strength, aggression, and assertiveness. Birds like doves are symbolized as love and peace. Colors are also held symbolically, for instance the color black resembling death, and depression....   [tags: dee, maggies, understanding, compassion]

Powerful Essays
1838 words (5.3 pages)

Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay

- 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....   [tags: dee, maggie, family]

Powerful Essays
735 words (2.1 pages)

Everyday Use, by Alice Walker Essay

- ... Through-out the beginning of the story, Mama sings her daughters praises, speaking of her education and her beauty. She compares Dee against her younger sister Maggie, “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (Walker par 10), but her praises remain only on superficial good qualities that Dee possesses. Although Mama speaks highly of her daughter, the tone that Walker writes Mama’s attitude gives the reader an understanding that Mama was slightly resentful toward her daughter, and had hard feelings for Dee’s materialistic love for the finer things in life....   [tags: maggie, dee, materialistic love]

Powerful Essays
1094 words (3.1 pages)

Psychology in Every Day Use by Alice Walker Essay

- Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious mind focus on the dark aspects of fears and repressions that plague an individual in childhood, and follow them unresolved into adulthood. Freud divides the unconscious mind into a tri-part; Id where our deepest desires lie, ego our conscious mind, and super-ego our moral guide based on our culture. Deconstructing the function of each tri-part can seem biased, especially with Freud’s belief that women were inferior to men and people of color inferior to all....   [tags: dee, maggie, super ego]

Powerful Essays
1523 words (4.4 pages)

Hypocrisy in Steven Crane’s Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets Essay

- “Maggie: Girl of the Streets,” written by Stephen Crane, is the common tale of girl fallen victim to the environment around her. Embedded in the story is the Darwin theory survival of the fittest, in which Maggie, the main character does manage to survive, but with drastic consequences. Born into a hell-hole with no positive role models around her, her tragic fate was expected to some degree. Prostitution for women in poverty was not an uncommon occupation and suicide as death was also a common form of an ends to means for literature of that time as well....   [tags: Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets 2014]

Powerful Essays
3400 words (9.7 pages)

Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets Essay

- Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane is a short novel about a young girl and the people in her life. Despite its brevity, this book displays many significant themes that its author intertwines in the story plot. Such themes are determinism, hypocrisy, false morality, self-deception, and appearance verses reality.Maggie’s mother, Mrs. Johnson, is a symbol of hypocrisy in the story. She lost her husband, and had to raise her children by herself in poverty. She drinks to heal her pain so that she doesn’t have to face reality....   [tags: Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets]

Powerful Essays
547 words (1.6 pages)

Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets Essay

- The novel, Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets, by Stephen Crane, takes place in the slums of New York City during the 1890’s. It is about a girl, Maggie Johnson, who is forced to grow up in a tenement house. She had a brother, Jimmie, an abusive mother, Mary, and a father who died when Maggie was young. When Maggie grew up, she met her boyfriend, Pete. In Maggie’s eyes, Pete was a sophisticated young man who impressed Maggie because he treated her better than she had been treated to all of her life....   [tags: Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets]

Powerful Essays
1095 words (3.1 pages)

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Huck Finn Essay

- Maggie Girl of the Streets & Huck Finn Life in the 1800s has taken on an almost idealistic quality in the minds of many Americans. The images linked to this era of our history are, on the surface, pleasurable to recall: one room school houses; severe self-reliance; steam-powered railroads and individual freedom. All in all, we seem to recall a well-scrubbed past. Maybe, as we cross into the next century, it's time to take another look at the so-called "good old days." Two very well written works that help to see the latter side of family life in the late 1800s are Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn....   [tags: Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets]

Powerful Essays
937 words (2.7 pages)

Stephen Crane's Maggie, A Girl of the Streets Essay

- Stephen Crane's Maggie, A Girl of the Streets Stephen Crane’s first novel Maggie (girl of the streets) is a tale of uncompromising realism. The story chronicles the titular Maggie, a girl who lives in the Bowery with her emotionally abusive parents and brothers Jimmie and Tommy. The novel revolves around the trials and tribulations of Maggie and her family in the Bowery. Highlights of the story include the death of Maggie’s father and brother Tommie which drive Pete to turn into a cold and hard person by novels end....   [tags: Realism Crane Maggie]

Free Essays
1525 words (4.4 pages)