Summary of Everyday Use

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Alice’s Walker’s, “Everyday Use”, tells a story of a southern, African American family that consist of Mama, the story’s narrator, and her two daughters, Dee, the oldest, and her sister, Maggie. Set during the back to Africa movement of the early 1970’s, when African Americans removed their surnames or names fully and adopted new names that represented their African heritage, Dee leaves home for college and returns to announce the change of her name from Dee to Wangero. She collects items that Mama and Maggie uses everyday to take with her, and finally tries to take a quilt that has been stitched together by her family for generations. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker reveals the intracultural class within the Black community as African Americans struggle to piece together the elements of their lives that are both African and American into a cohesive whole. Alice Walker characterizes Dee as an aggressive, confident woman who normally gets what she wants. Mama recalls, “Dee wanted nice things….She was determined to stare down any disaster in her effort…At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was” (paragraph 12). Dee has ambitions and goals and lets nothing stop her from reaching them. She has her own way of going about things and is determined to get her way no matter what. Highly intelligent and ambitious, Dee goes to school to further her education and to expand her horizon, and, while in college, Dee learns the culture of her people. However, Dee’s intelligence and ambition are characteristics that lead to the conflict in the story because they also reveal Dee’s naivety and the static nature of Walker’s character development. Because she always gets her way, Dee is single minded and does not see the clash she creates between herself and her family members. When she first returns home, she snaps photos of Mama and Maggie sitting on the porch as if they are artifacts of an old way of life, illustrating their setting in an old way of life,...
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