Comparing Maggie and Dee in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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Portia Salvant
Dr.Y.Sims
Sophomore Seminar
English 251-02
25 September 2012
Embracing Heritage
The short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the story is about two sisters and a mother. Despite the family being poor, the mother works hard to provide for the both of her daughters. Dee is the eldest daughter and despises where she came from. Dee later on gains an education, attends college, and obtains a degree. In the story she is going through an identity crisis and changes her name to "Wanegro." On the other hand, Maggie is a shy young girl. At such a young age, she is still suffering from a tragic event. Maggie is intimidated by Dee; solely since Dee carries many accomplishments and her appearance. Soon after, Dee remembers the quilts made by her grandmother. She attempts to obtain the quilts and her mother decides to give the quilts to Maggie. The quilts are a symbol of customs in their family. In many different cultures there are a variety of customs that follow along with the generations. The short story exposes that the two sisters are attempting to reach the same goal, but in unlike methods. The mother is the narrator of the story and she shows the audience their differences. The mother describes herself to be “a large big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (pg.65). Both girls are beautiful in their own way. Maggie is jealous of Wanergo’s beauty and it seems as if Maggie is ashamed of the way she looks. Mama then goes on to say that, “she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (pg.64). Mama then compares Wanergo’s beauty to Maggie’s looks, she says, “Dee (Wanergo) is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (pg.65). In the story, Mama and Maggie are waiting at home for a visit from Wanergo, Mama explains Maggie as being nervous while her sister is around. The difference in the way Maggie and Wanergo look plays a large...
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