Alice Walker's Everyday Use: Traditions, Relationships, and Identity

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Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” talks about traditions, relationships and identity. In this piece by Alice Walker the three characters; Dee, Maggie, and Mama show us the struggles that African Americans during this time went through. Alice Walker's modern classic "Everyday Use" tells the story of a mother and her two daughters' conflicting ideas about their identities and ancestry. The mother, Mama narrates the story of when one of her daughter Dee, visits from college and clashes with the other daughter, Maggie, over the possession of some heirloom quilts. In addition, the three characters represent the different aspects of their culture. Each character has a different personality. Dee is very outgoing and educated whereas Maggie and Mama are not educated. In “Everyday Use” Mama's thoughts about her daughters are expressed through the fire that took place. Mama expresses how she feels each daughter is towards her and in the short story you can see how she treats each daughter. In every household there seems to be that one child that is treated like royalty while the rest are not. There is no exception in Alice Walker's “Everyday Use.” Mama, the main character who the story is shown through treats one of her daughter better than the other. According to Mama, “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure.” From this we see that Mama perceives Dee as being better than Maggie just because of how she looks. Mama thinks that Dee is prettier than Maggie. In addition, it is as if Maggie is the ugly duckling of the family. Mama feels that Dee is better off than Maggie. She thinks that Dee has a lot going on for her whereas Maggie has nothing. From this we can see that Mama doesn't worry as much about Dee because she knows that Dee can handle herself where as she worries about Maggie since she knows that Maggie is not educated nor does she have beauty.

Alice Walker, "Everyday Use"
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