The human mind is divided into three parts that make up the mind as a whole. These parts are necessary to have a complete mind, just as the members of a family are needed to make up the entire family. The use of components to equal a whole is often exercised in literature. Alice Walker's short story, "Everyday Use," contains the idea of family and of the mind, therefore her work can be evaluated through psychological methods. Through their actions, the characters symbolize the three different parts of the mind: the id, the ego, and the superego.
The first type of mind division, the id, "constantly strives to satisfy basic drives...[and] seeks immediate gratification" (Myers 379). In "Everyday Use," Dee's personality is equivalent to the id because she seeks her own personal gain and does not necessarily consider the consequences of her actions. Mama, the narrator in "Everyday Use," says that "Dee wanted nice things. She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts" (Walker 92). Dee strives for satisfaction in all she does; she will do everything in her power to get what she desires. The story recounts a situation in which Dee wants some quilts that were stiched by her grandmother, but Mama has already promised these treasures to Dee's sister, Maggie. Mama said that as she "[moved] up to touch the quilts. Dee moved back just enough so that [Mama] couldn't reach the quilts. They already belonged to [Dee]" (Walker 96). Mama explains that Dee is determined to gain possession of the quilts. Although the quilts belong to her mother, Dee has already mentally determined that the quilts belong to her. Dee's personality is comparable to the id branch of the...
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...The use of psychological strategies in the Walker's work shows that the characters are joined and create one unit, a family.
Alice Malsenior Walker: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1986. Eds. Louis H. Pratt and Donnell D. Pratt. Connecticut: Meckler Corporation, 1988.
Everyday Use: Alice Walker. Ed. Barbara T. Christian. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994.
Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology. Third edition. New York: Worth Publishing, 1996.
Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Sixth edition. Eds. X.J. Dennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.
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