Custom Everyday Use by Alice Walker essay paper sample
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In this analysis, I will be analyzing the story, Everyday Use by Alice Walker. Specifically, the analysis rotates about three characters, Dee, her mother and her sister Maggie who have so many differences in the story. Dee wants to live a rich life which is far beyond her means while her sister Maggie is satisfied with her life as well as her mother.
I enjoyed the story because it had very different personalities. Maggie was down to earth while Dee was entirely opposite. At times, I empathized with Maggie since she seemed lesser blessed compared to Dee who always seemed to have the best. "Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure". "Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her". This quote illustrates how Maggie was always intimidated by Dee's presence and always perceived her as being superior compared to her.
Dee is a dreamer as compared to her sister Maggie who does not seem to yearn for better things in life. Dee's hopes seem so high. She expects a lot from herself and from people too. Dee in the whole story shows that she is ashamed of her family. For example, she thinks Maggie and her are old fashioned since all their furniture is not modern as she wants. She wants her family to have and live the class they cannot afford. Still, Dee is a dreamer since she implies to her friends in college that she comes from a well up family. When at college, she writes to her family and informs them that she is coming but does not bring her friends along since she does not want them to know the life she lives while at home. Dee wants them to know that she is from a rich family which is only in her desire and dreams because her family in reality is not well up at all (Walker 24).
Maggie comes out as a girl who is has a very low self esteem. She does not love herself as she should. Probably, she thinks, she is not pretty enough. "How do I look, Mama?" Maggie says, showing just enough of her thin body enveloped in pink skirt and red blouse for me to know she's there, almost hidden by the door." This statement illustrates how Maggie is even not proud of herself even before her own mother (Walker 15).
On the other hand, Dee is completely different. She dreams of her family being big and changing and is contemptuous of her family's ways. She wants the best in her life and wants her family to be in the same level as her. College entirely changes Dee's mind and she hopes her family changes too. She dreams and hopes that her family will step into the future and be a part of the world as it is. When she leaves home, she says to her sister Maggie that "it's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it" (Walker 76). This shows that she completely wants a different perspective in her family.
Dee's decision to go to college completely changes her, since she discovers different and better things in life which she hopes to impact on her family; Maggie and her mother. Dee even changes her way of thinking. According to her mother, " Dee's knowledge is foreign and is tinged with an element of danger since it includes "lies" and "other folks' habits" and worse yet, it makes her mother and sister, who have a different tradition of learning feel "ignorant and trapped" with knowledge that her mother feels is not necessary". Both Mama's and Maggie get disturbed and angered by Dee's behavior of contempt, insulting, selfishness, and aggression. Maggie still wants to give in to Dee, over the quilts that she really wants. An animated Mama powerfully declines and throws the quilts into Maggie's lap. Dee and Akbar leave shortly, soon after Dee illustrating to Mama that she did not understand the value of heritage and that Maggie should raise herself out of the southern black rural environment. Here, Mama gets to realize the strength and worth of her younger daughter as against the ostensibly foreign impetuous mannerisms of her older sister. Seemingly, Maggie is still intimidated by her sister but the Mama thinks as much as Dee is enlightened, she should not shun their heritage (Jonathan 18-20).
Dee's assessment of her heritage is also material as opposed to those of her ancestors. Even when she is big, she goes to an extent of changing her names. "She's dead," Wangero said. "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me." Dee ends up changing her name because she does not appreciate the origin of her name. This shows educational traditions at odds since Dee/Wangero has been taught to consider the social and political implications of a name and to connect importance to these while her mother's traditions have relied on naming children after other family members. According to her mother, names are based on tradition but Dee ignores this and goes ahead to change her name, from Dee to Wangero. Even when she is leaving for college, she still whines of her sister Maggie and her mother; according to her, they should perceive life differently. This shows that she is never satisfied with anything in this life, including her heritage (Jonathan 24-25).