There are three chief characters in “ Everyday Use ” Maggie, Mama and Dee. The first of the three was Maggie, “ Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her weaponries and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of enviousness and awe. ” ( Walker 297 ) Maggie is covetous of her sister Dee because she is their theoretical account of beauty so to talk, “ Lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure. ” ( Walker 298 ) The description of Maggie gives a wealth of information in respects to her character. She is ashamed of her outward visual aspect, the burn marks upon her individual that were the consequence of a awful fire in which their place burned down. Her assurance suffers greatly from this, the short narrative topographic points great weight on the quality of outward visual aspects and its degree of importance to the household. Cowart explains that Maggie represents, “ The battalion of black adult females who must endure while the occasional lucky “ sister ” escapes the ghetto. Scarred, graceless. ” Maggie is self-aware and uneducated ; she symbolizes the common African American of this clip. In this manner Maggie is similar to Mama. When Mama, “ A big, big-boned adult female with unsmooth, adult male working custodies. ” ( Walker 298 ) negotiations about the dream she has of being on a telecasting show with her girl Dee, having clinchs and orchids from the kid, she say “ I am the manner my girl would desire me to be: a hundred lbs lighter, my tegument a uncooked barley battercake. My hair glitters in the hot bright visible radiations. “ ( Walker 298 ) The image of beauty is misconstrued by the three adult females, each desiring to accomplish a certain visual aspect to farther themselves from the expressions of the mean African American adult female of that clip and closer to that of the modern educated and accepted adult females.
When the character ‘s in the narrative talk about instruction it is about with a sense of bitterness. “ She used to read to us without commiseration ; coercing words, prevarications, other folks ‘ wonts, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and nescient under her voice. “ ( Walker 299 ) Dee ‘s instruction and cognition was a power card. Maggie and Mama did non travel to school. Mama and the church had to raise the money so that Dee could go to college in Augusta, Georgia. Some of the tenseness between the household is over the utility of this cognition obtained by Dee. Dee ‘s instruction is non put to the same manner every twenty-four hours so to talk as her household ‘s is, in the beginning of the narrative Mama boasts about her ability to kill a pig, cook and take attention of her farm. ” ( Walker298 ) examples such as this one are the really things that makes Dee ‘s instruction seems so foreign, she does non utilize it to finish undertakings like Maggie and Mama any longer and so they can non see the importance of an instruction.
The changing of Dee ‘s name to Wangero is an of import facet of this narrative that touches on symbolism. Although Dee seems to be an activist towards new traditional values and instruction, she is the character most at hazard to the loss of her self-defining heritage. The appellative procedure in the Johnson household was meant to be a manner of following one ‘s household line of descent. Dee was named after her aunt Dicie who in bend was named after her female parent and so on and so forth boulder clay it reached the eldest relation that mamma could retrieve. Dee nevertheless does non see this is a tradition to be proud of and alternatively finds the name to be violative. David Cowart, writer of Heritage and Deracination in Walker ‘s ‘Everyday Use ‘ says that “ Wangero persists in seeing the name as little more than the chafing reminder that African Americans have been denied reliable names. “ I could n’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me ” ( 53 ) . ” This statement shows that Dee is nescient to the significance behind the appellative procedure every bit good as the actions of her ascendants and the importance of their battles.
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Dee feels that her “ utilizations ” are better suited to analysing and believing critically about her yesteryear and heritage. This nevertheless is the exact antonym for Mama who feels that the more of import “ utilizations ” are 1s that can be productive to their mundane life. The narrative is meant to demo how times have changed and that Traditions can be changed. An illustration of the differences in Dee ‘s position of utility and Mama ‘s would be the comforters promised to Maggie in her dowery. Dee wants the comforters to set on show and is outraged by the fact that if Maggie were to acquire them so they would be used systematically and damaged. Dee is looking to continue the history and heritage of her household by bordering the valued objects, while Maggie would utilize them for their designed intent, However Mama eventually stands up to Dee, for both herself and Maggie.
Writer of the review “ Walker ‘s Everyday usage ” John Gruesser defines this minute as “ Mama ‘s epiphany, ” where upon she realizes that Maggie, who has a passion for the history and traditions of their household, deserves the comforters more than Dee, the favourable girl, who held no involvement in the comforters past the fact that they were in manner now amidst the people in her universe of instruction. The Passage from Walker ‘s “ Everyday usage ” describes the epiphany:
“ Something hit me in the top of my caput and ran down to the colloidal suspensions of my pess. Just like when I ‘m in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and cry. I did something I ‘d ne’er done before: Hugged Maggie to me, so dragged her on into the room, snatched the comforters out of Miss Wangero ‘s Hands and dumped them into Maggie ‘s lap. ” ( Walker 303 )
In Gruesser ‘s review he states that “ Significantly, in seeing the value in Maggie, Mama has been able to look beneath the surface of things and see the value in herself every bit good. ” Standing up to Dee and procuring the comforters for Maggie as were her purposes.
Alice Walker ‘s does a glorious Job of showcasing the features of three immensely different adult females to depict the values, cognition and traditions of the people during this clip. Her short narrative imparts upon its readers the demand for historical cognition and traditions so as to non lose sight of the import parts of mundane life.
Cowart, David. “ Heritage and Deracination in Walker ‘s ‘Everyday Use. ‘ . ” Studies in Short Fiction 33.2 ( Spring 1996 ) : 171-184. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 97. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Mar. 2011.
Farrell, Susan. “ Fight V. Flight: A Re-Evaluation of Dee in Alice Walker ‘s ‘Everyday Use. ‘ . ” Studies in Short Fiction 35.2 ( Spring 1998 ) : 179-186. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 97. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Mar. 2011.