everyday use

974 Words4 Pages
Oscar Wilde once said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught". On reading "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, I realized that education played a role in the plot of the story. Dee Johnson's College education helped developed her egotistical character which became her utmost flaw. Does education shape ones character? And is it really a positive thing in all circumstance? Walker creates Dee as a selfish, unfeeling individual, who has an incredible zest for knowledge. She emphasizes her character as distinct from that of Maggie Johnson her younger sister. ”She used to read to us without pity, forcing words, lies, other folk's habits, whole lives upon us two; sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her words" (7), because of this her mother, Mrs. Johnson sends her to school in Augusta after she and the church raises the money. Dee thinks she is better than the rest, she wants to leave her family and heritage behind because she feels like they aren’t as sophisticated as she is. She tries to force "other folkways habits" on Mrs. Johnson and Maggie. In the story, you see how mama narrates that she pressed them with the serious way she reads, only to shove them away at the moment they seemed about to understand(10). Dee acts superior to her mom and Maggie and also treats them like dimwits because of their illiteracy. I think its best that one is intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy because they are different. In the story, Mrs. Johnson and Maggie are not portrayed as ignorant people, but illiterates who though do not have the kind or experience Dee has. Mrs. Johnson and Maggie are capable of forming cognitive opinions quite as ... ... middle of paper ... ...rs. Johnson drags Maggie into the room because she realized that she cannot always get what she wants every time she demands for it. At the end of the day, I see Dee's character as a weakness because with all the education and sophistication she does not know the true importance of family and heritage. It is ironical that she tells her mother and sister that they do not understand their heritage, because it does seem that she does not know anything about it either she did change her name after all. Personally, I think that one should not live in isolation of ones history because it defines who you are. Irrespective of the kind of education and experiences Dee has, she should understand that culture can never be acquired. Culture can never be turned on and off at will, but that culture is lived. Finally, Intelligence plus good character is the goal of true education.
Open Document