"Everyday Use" Literary Analysis

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Everyday Use Literary Analysis
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a short, yet powerful story about a simple, rural family that’s changed with the return of one of the daughters. Maggie and “Mama” continue to keep the tradition of a simple and hardworking life that seems to be passed down from generations, but we see that Dee has been a black sheep since a young age and holds resentment toward her family because of their lifestyle. Mama was raised into this lifestyle and has become satisfied and happy with it. With her man-ish skills she readily adopts the chores of the life she’s accepted, but like any parent, wants the best she possible can for her dear daughters. Maggie, like her mother, lacks many natural gifts like beauty or brains, but in her simplicity she, too, can find happiness. Dee is the lucky child of the two. She is the firstborn, and although she holds her disdain towards the surroundings of her youth, she was given what opportunities that Mama could provide, like schooling. However, on the faithful day of Dee’s return, Mama learns that there are sometimes repercussions to kind acts – or perhaps her kindness was wasted. When Dee’s spoiled nature reveals itself as worse than ever, it seems that these three people are no longer a family.

The difference between Dee and her would-be family members was strikingly obvious from the first moment to the last during her visit. The first thing that caught Mama’s eye was the first thing that Dee showed of herself. “Her feet were always neat-looking, as if God himself had shaped them with a certain style” (169). As shown by her feet, and by the rest of her moments later, she was the lucky one to have beauty. She was the lucky one to go off to school in the first place. Her natural beauty was also accentuated by her clothes. Much like her personality, there was little that was hidden. A dress bright enough to “throw back the light of the sun” (169), golden earrings down to her shoulders, and bracelets that...
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