“Everyday Use” is a short story by Alice Walker. It is about two sisters, one of whom is trying to reconnect with her African American heritage. The other sister is resentful of this and feels that she is being displaced in her own home. The story explores the sisters’ different views on their heritage and what it means to them. Ultimately, the story shows how important it is to appreciate your heritage and to use it in a way that honors those who came before you.
In “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker depicts a mother and two daughters. Despite their financial situation, the mother works hard to provide for both of her children. Dee is the eldest daughter, and she loathes where she comes from. Because of her mother and the community’s fundraising efforts, Dee was able to attend school in Augusta and receive an education and a degree.
When Dee returns home, she looks down on her mother and sister because they do not have the same things that she has. The mother then gives Dee a quilt that was made by her grandmother and Dee’s great-aunt. When Maggie, the younger sister, tries to get the quilt from Dee, Dee says that it is not for “Everyday Use.” The story ends with the mother giving the quilt to Maggie and telling Dee that she can have it when she comes to visit again.
The mother in the tale is a very successful women who betrays her own daughter, Dee. The narrator of the story is Wanegro, and she has an identity crisis while undergoing tremendous change to go by the name “Wanegro.” On the other hand, Maggie, the younger sister, is a timid young girl.
The comparison between herself and Maggie to Dee, the accomplished daughter, illustrates her jealousy towards her. At such a young age, Maggie is still dealing with a tragic event. Maggie fears Dee only because Dee has several accomplishments and appears to be confident in herself.
For example, Dee is educated, while Maggie did not have the chance to go to school. Dee is also considered to be prettier than Maggie. As a result, the mother feels as if she is inadequate when she is around Dee. The mother tries to make up for her own insecurities by making sure that Maggie has everything that Dee had wanted when she was younger.
Dee returns home and the mother and sisters are overjoyed to see her. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Dee has changed significantly since she left. She now goes by the name “Wanegro” and has adopted a new African-American identity. She is also very critical of her family and their way of life.
Dee insists on taking two quilts that her grandmother had made, despite the fact that her family is in need of them. She also criticizes Maggie, telling her that she is not pretty enough to wear one of the quilts. This upsets Maggie and she starts to cry. In the end, Dee leaves with the quilts and Maggie is left with nothing.
Dee is said to be “self-conscious of her scars and burn marks, and envious of Dee’s much easier existence” (Everyday use, 256). Soon afterwards, Dee recalls the quilts made by her grandmother. She attempts to get the quilts back and her mother decides to give them to Maggie. The quilts are a symbol of their family’s traditions. In many societies around the world, there are many different customs that pass from one generation to the next.
These customs are often time-consuming, but the family members often do not mind because it is a part of their culture. In the short story, “Everyday Use”, Alice Walker writes about the importance of family heritage and how some people view it differently.
The short story is set in the deep south during the 1970’s. There are three main characters, Dee, Maggie, and their mother. Dee is the oldest child and she left home to go to college and see the world. Maggie is the younger child who was born with a disability that has caused her to be slow both mentally and physically. Their mother is a hard working woman who does not have much money.
When Dee comes home from college she brings with her a new boyfriend who is from Ghana. Dee has changed her name to Wangero and she wants her family to call her by her new name. She is also interested in the African culture. Maggie is shy and does not say much. She is content with the life she has. Their mother loves both of her daughters, but she is worried about Dee because she seems to have lost touch with her roots.
The short tale emphasizes that the two sisters are all trying to achieve the same objective in different ways. In certain ways, it also suggests that one is striving to be superior to the other. The mother is the story’s narrator, and she depicts the differences between them. She also appears to be envious of Dee in various ways. “I’m a big stocky lady with hardworking hands,” says the mother (Everyday Use 256). Maggie and Dee are both lovely in their own way, although Maggie is jealous of Dee’s beauty and seems to be ashamed of her scars.
The mother also tells the story of how Dee use to pick on Maggie when they were younger. “Dee was sixteen then, with a short fro that made her look like a number one, and a attitude to match” (Everyday Use. 256). It seems as if the mother is trying to make it known that Dee has always been stuck up and better than Maggie, but in reality it is because Dee has always had more opportunities than Maggie.
The mother goes into detail about an incident where Dee ruined one of Maggie’s few possessions. “That was the first time I ever went against her-the first time words had failed me. She just stood there holding the quilt and looking from it to me, and her face was hard and mean” (Everyday Use. 258). The mother is trying to say that Dee is heartless, but in this short story the reader does not see that side of Dee.
The short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a story about family, heritage, and learning to appreciate what you have. It shows the importance of being grateful for what you have, even if it is not much. It also teaches people to not take things for granted and to always be humble.
The physical appearance of the sisters is significantly different. Maggie has an emaciated body type with scars from a house fire on her arms and legs. Dee’s beauty evidently bothers Maggie, who appears to be ashamed of her appearance. Mama claims, “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister leaves: she will stand hopelessly in corners, ugly and embarrassed by the burn scars on her arms and legs, looking at her sister with envy and admiration.”
Dee on the other hand, is very proud of her looks. Dee changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo to sound more African. She even wears an African headwrap and earrings. Dee is also very critical of Mama and Maggie’s way of living. She tells Mama, “Mama, you ought to try and make something of yourself. It’s really a new day for us. But from the way you and Maggie act, anybody’d think it was still the dark ages”.