Great Ambition In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which directed them." It is true that ambition is a main component of those who have achieved great things in life, but how much of it can we drink before we find ourselves in disagreement with who we are and where we come from? The story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, denotes the conflict between a generation whose opportunities were limited and scarce, but rich in culture, tradition, and values and a new generation who saw new opportunities as a means to get out of poverty, but sometimes at the cost of having to reconcile their heritage and their values with a new
Dee desired more from life than the things she grew up with. Mama (1982) makes this clear when she says, "Dee wanted nice things" (p. 316). It is a short phrase, but very revealing. Dee didn't just want to have the necessities; she ambitioned to have the nice material things in life. Even Dee's sense of fashion displayed this materialistic attitude when Mama (1982) says that Dee would wear dresses "So loud it would hurt my eyes" (p. 317). This way of expressing herself through the use of loud colors was an expression of her rejection of the status quo. Her studies opened her eyes to a different world and now the world she grew up in was too small for her ambitions. Furthermore, Dee's materialistic attitude not only made her reject her family and home, but it made her feel embarrassed of her mother's humble living. This is evident when Mama (1982) says, "She wrote me once that no matter where we “choose” to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends" (p. 317). Dee's materialistic ambitions made her look down on her own family. She felt superior than that place and bringing her friends to visit would had been unacceptable. Dee did not realize that her rejection of that house was also the rejection of her loved ones and everything that place represented. Materialistic ambition can definitely make us trade love for pleasure, family for money, and a true grounded identity for a shallow
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