Analysis of Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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Alice Walker constructs a time period reflective piece of literature that creatively captures the fundamental juxtapositions between Dee and her little sister, Maggie, and how these differences aid in conveying the author’s message. The two characters are foil characters who embody polar opposites of progression, education, aesthetics and appreciation of heritage-both personal and broad. Although both characters portray several negative attributes, they each have redeeming features. Through these characteristics, the author is able to express to the reader the importance of these characters positive features, and how the negative attributes serve as an anchor to each character’s potential.

At first sight, the most noticeable difference between Dee and Maggie is their appearance. Dee is tall and thin like a model, and wears extravagant clothing and jewelry. She puts a great amount of care into styling her hair and standing out with ostentatious colors. She represents the new view of beauty of the time period- where thinner is better and bold is beautiful. Dee’s skin is described as flawless, completely unscathed. Maggie on the other hand has a less slender physique, and dresses humbly. Her skin bears scars of the past, reflecting her strong connection to the past- the old house, her grand relatives, and family history. Through these detailed descriptions, the reader is aware of the values of Dee and Maggie. Although Dee is flourishing with aesthetics, she is also extremely concerned with appearances; Maggie’s visual practicality- although may come across as cheap or unkept. These are ways in which each characters extremes are both positives and negatives- Dee could use some simplicity, whereas Maggie could use something to help her stand out with such a timid personality. These contrasting appearances reflect the contrasting personalities of each character. Dee is just as bold as her appearance, and Maggie just as humble as her appearance. Maggie seldom is...
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