What generates the magnificence of every individual’s self-image and outer-image is the multiplicity of choice, right to opinion, and an inimitable desired path in life. What is it that defines right or immoral choices in an individual’s life? Is there reason to condemn someone of doing wrong or deem unworthy because his or her lifestyle doesn’t correspond with the onlooker? In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” the principal character, Dee, is viewed by her narrating mother as leading a controversial and distasteful life; however, Dee is not an unpleasant and naïve young woman as her character is portrayed from her mother’s cross perspective.
Dee is seeking an altered life versus the way her mother anticipated when raising on her a farm in rural Georgia and seemingly has been doing so since a young age. Dee longs for an existence full of culture, sophistication, luxury, and edification that her sister and mother are unaccustomed with. Dee’s philosophies and self-image are scorned almost as if she is an foreigner encroaching on her mother’s and Maggie’s simple farm life. In some respects, it almost seems as if the character, Dee, is a bit of a representation of Walker’s own young self-perception and perhaps what Walker thought of her own family’s judgment of her when visiting home in rural Georgia.
When describing Dee’s upbringing, her mother, after satirically recalling Dees reaction to their first household burning down and raising money to send her to school, states, “She used to read to us without pit; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know” (...
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...er and Maggie and wanting so much more than a simple, rural farm life. Perhaps it is because of the time and setting of the story, but many parents would be proud of their children creating a future and life for themselves when coming from a background of so little. It is because of her mother’s feelings that a negative tone is set to the audience in regards to Dee, not because she actually is a corrupt person or deserves to be less appreciated than Maggie. Even when Dee tries to take her iconic familial heritage of quilting with her and integrate the quilts into her new life, her mother does not oblige seemingly out of resent for her daughter’s choices.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. Dana Gioia and X.J. Kennedy. New York: Longman, 2010. 69-76. Print.