The character of “Dee” in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” comes across
as being very shallow, selfish and arrogant from the very beginning of the
story. As the story progresses though, Dee does become more complex and
is shown to be struggling with her own identity and heritage. Concrete
details are stated about Dee that lead you to know she is beautiful, smart and
confident. Dee is described as slender with a small waste. She is a light
skinned black person with a nice grade of hair. She is also somewhat
educated. Dee is fashion conscience, always wanting nicer things that were
not affordable to her family.
In the beginning of the story, Dee’s mother and sister, Maggie are
preparing for Dee’s arrival for a visit. Here is where you get the first
glimpse of Dee’s apparent personality. Maggie is described by her mother
as being nervous until after Dee goes when Dee hasn’t even arrived yet.
This leads you to believe that perhaps Maggie is intimidated by Dee and
perhaps feels inferior to Dee. Dee’s mother talks about dreaming a dream
about being greeted by Dee with an embrace and tears in her eyes. In real
life Dee’s mother and sister don’t seem to feel as though they quite measure
up to what Dee expects or wants them to be.
Dee’s mother never had much of an education but the church and Dee’s
mom raised enough money to send Dee off to school. Maggie is mentioned
as having poor sight and not being very bright. Dee on the other hand is
smart. Dee would come home and read to them and attempt to dump a lot of
knowledge on them that they didn’t necessarily need to know and would
likely never use. This is just one of the first examples of Dee’s s selfishness.
When Dee arrives home, she has brought a man with her. She introduces
him to her family and announces she has changed her name to a Swahili
name, claiming she could not stand being named...
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