Mama, the protagonist in Alice Walker's short story, Everyday Use is a woman with a solid foundation and tough roots. The qualities that society would find admirable within Mama are the same qualities that Dee, Mama's oldest daughter, would spurn, thinking them only the qualities of a down home, uneducated, country bumpkin. Dee, the story's main antagonist, is proof that children are not necessarily products of their environment.
From the beginning of the story we see that Mama, who describes herself as "a large, big-boned woman with rough, man working hands" (68) has no illusions about the type of woman she is; however, she still has enough depth to dream about being reunited with her daughter Dee on television in a fantasy complete with a limousine, orchids, and Johnny Carson. Mama, who is capable of killing a bull calf with a sledge hammer (69), knows that she is uneducated, dark, and heavy. Mama also knows that the fantasy has more to do with making Dee happy than fulfilling any of her own wishes. Mama's main character strength is her patience as it relates to her children and specifically Dee. From the time that Dee steps out of the car and informs Mama and her younger sister Maggie that they should no longer call her Dee, Mama displays this patience. Mama must feel disappointment in the fact that Wangero, as she wishes to be called, considers Dee dead (71). To Mama, who named Dee after her sister, Wangero's statement that she couldn't bear to be named after the people that oppressed her (71) must have been like saying it was Wangero's family that had actually been the oppressors. Mama's patience and willingness to bend to the wishes of her daughter showed great inner strength and understanding.
Mama continues to...
... middle of paper ...
...the quilts are priceless (73). Mama, on the other hand, almost gives in until Maggie, who knows her place in this world like Mama knows hers, says that Wangero can have the quilts. Maggie's act of resignation triggers Mama into doing something she had never done before. She hugs Maggie and stands up to Wangero.
The irony of Wangero's statement that Mama does not understand her heritage (74) ties the emotions of the conflict together. With that statement, we perceive that Mama and Maggie not only understand their heritage, they are living examples of it. Wangero not only does not understand her heritage, she has spent so much of her life denying it that she will never find it.
Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Fourth Edition. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Prentice Hall, 1995: 68-74.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Everyday Use by Alice Walker Through contrasting family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the importance of understanding our present life in relation to the traditions of our own people and culture. Using careful descriptions and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors contribute to the values of one's heritage and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects or mere appearances, but by one's lifestyle and attitude. Throughout the story, Walker personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Dee and the mother (the narrator).... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use]
964 words (2.8 pages)
- In "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, Walker shows differences in human character, just by the way they act towards family members. The main character in the story, Mother, has two daughters that she treats very differently, and they treat her differently. One daughter looks down on Mother in a condescending manner, and the other is obedient and kind. In "Everyday Use", Walker shows that in relationships between a mother and daughters, adaptation to change can sometimes be very hard, which leads to pride and protecting what one has accomplished, and finally shows how un-appreciation can hinder these relationships.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use]
952 words (2.7 pages)
- In every family there seems to be a child that is bestowed with all of the positive aspects of her parents. Unfortunately, for every perfect child there is, it seems that there is one child that is less talented and less beautiful. In the short story, "Everyday Use", these two character descriptions fit perfectly in relation to the characters of Dee and Maggie. Dee is the gifted and beautiful child, whereas Maggie seems to have been left behind by the gene pool and luck. In her short story, "Everyday Use", Alice Walker utilizes language, the tragedy of the fire burning down Maggie's family's house, and her portrayal of Dee to pain an extremely sympathetic portrait of Maggie.... [tags: Everyday Use Alice Walker]
1207 words (3.4 pages)
- The Character of Dee in Alice Walker's Everyday Use Alice Walker skillfully crafts the character of Dee Johnson in the short story "Everyday Use." From the first paragraph, Walker begins to weave the portrait of Dee, who at first seems shallow in many aspects. Dee becomes a more complex character, however, as the story unfolds. Blessed with both brains and good looks, Dee emerges as someone who is still struggling with her identity and heritage. Dee's physical beauty can be defined as one of her biggest assets.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use Essays]
894 words (2.6 pages)
- Everyday Use by Alice Walker In the story 'Everyday Use', by Alice Walker, the value of ones culture and heritage are defined as a part of life that should not be looked upon as history but as a living existence of the past. Walker writes of the conflict between two Black cultures. Dee and Maggie are sisters whom do not share the same ideals. Mama is torn between two children with different perspectives of what life truly means. In the story, Walker describes the trial and tribulations of one daughter whose whole life is tormented by fear, failure and weakness; while the other "has held life always in the palm of one hand"(61) and moves to a better lifestyle.... [tags: Every Day Use Alice Walker]
640 words (1.8 pages)
- Everyday Use by Alice Walker In the short story Everyday Use, by Alice Walker, is narration by an African American woman in the South who is faced with the ultimate decision to whom she should give away the two quilts. Dee, her oldest daughter who is visiting from college, perceives the quilts as popular fashion and believes they should undoubtedly be given to her. Maggie, her youngest daughter, who still lives at home and understands the family heritage, has been promised the quilts. The two daughters each have opposing views on the value and worth of the different items in their lives.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use Essays]
724 words (2.1 pages)
- Everyday Use by Alice Walker “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, is a story of a black family composed of a mother and her two daughters: Maggie and Dee. Walker does an excellent job illustrating her characters. There are all types of characters in this short story from round to static. Dee is a flat character, yet Walker uses Dee’s character to warn people of what might happen if they do not live properly. Walker describes Dee’s character as arrogant and selfish, and through Dee’s character one is allowed to perceive the wicked effect of an egotistical world.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use Essays]
712 words (2 pages)
- Everyday Use By Alice Walker In Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" Mama is the narrator. She speaks of her family of two daughters Maggie and Dee. Through the eyes of two daughters, Dee and Maggie, who have chosen to live their lives in very different manners, the reader can choose which character to identify most with by judging what is really important in one’s life. Throughout the story three themes consistently show. These themes show that the family is separated by shame, knowledge, and pride.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use Essays]
1119 words (3.2 pages)
- Symbolism in Alice Walker's Everyday Use History in the Making Heritage is something that comes to or belongs to one by reason of birth. This may be the way it is defined in the dictionary, but everyone has their own beliefs and ideas of what shapes their heritage. In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, these different views are very evident by the way Dee (Wangero) and Mrs. Johnson (Mama) see the world and the discrepancy of who will inherit the family’s quilts. Symbolism such as certain objects, their front yard, and the different characters, are all used to represent the main theme that heritage is something to always be proud of.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use]
1557 words (4.4 pages)
- Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the author portrays opposing ideas about one’s heritage. Through the eyes of two daughters, Dee and Maggie, who have chosen to live their lives in very different manners, the reader can choose which character to identify most with by judging what is really important in one’s life. In Dee’s case, she goes out to make all that can of herself while leaving her past behind, in comparison to Maggie, who stays back with her roots and makes the most out of the surroundings that she has been placed in.... [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use Essays]
1644 words (4.7 pages)