Dynamic Characters in "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker

Topics: Family, Short story Pages: 3 (1027 words) Published: October 1, 2012
When reading Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use, one is rushed with a variety of emotions. It is hard to distinguish these emotions because each character exudes traits that are not comparable to the other. Furthermore Mama tells the story, and the reader is only aware of her true feelings. Although the Alice Walker’s story is told in first person, it still allows the readers to develop their own opinion of the characters. “Everyday Use” contains messages varying from the significance of family, to the importance of understanding and appreciating culture; however the underlying theme of “Everyday Use” revolves around the harmfulness of superficiality.

From the first line of the story, it is evident that Mama’s feelings towards Dee are unlike that of most parents waiting for their child to visit home. “Everyday Use” begins with Maggie, and Mama, the narrator anticipating her eldest daughters arrival. As opposed to leaving the house and yard “as is”, Mama and Maggie made the yard “so clean and wavy” (Walker 69) the previous day in preparation for the beloved Dee. Consequently, this odd preparation causes the reader to believe Dee is treated as a guest in her own house. Preparing for her arrival in such fashion only proves that Mama has placed Dee on a pedestal, extremely too high. “Houston Baker points out “The mood at the story’s beginning is one of ritualistic waiting,” of preparation “for the arrival of a goddess” (Farrell 1) Moreover, Mama’s description of Dee is comparable to that of an angel, “Her feet were always neat-looking, as if God himself had shaped them with a certain style.” (Walker 72), however her description of the younger Maggie is rather unusual. Instead of describing Maggie in a positive light, Mama chooses to point out all of Maggie’s flaws, and goes as far as comparing her to a “lame animal, perhaps a dog ” (Walker 70). Susan Farrell argues that “Mama’s view of Maggie is not quite accurate” further proving she has placed Dee on a...
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