The Character of Dee in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"
"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker is about a mother who has two daughters with very different values and concepts about family heritage. The mother and Maggie view the concept of heritage in the same manner. They believe it should be put to everyday use. The other daughter, Dee, has went away to college only to return to embrace her heritage but for all the wrong reasons. She wants to preserve it as a remembrance of her past. The most prominent character in Walker's short story is Dee. Dee is portrayed as a flat character in the narrative because she remains the same throughout the entire story. We mainly learn about her through the observations and words spoken to us from her mother, but we also learn a great deal about her through her own actions and words. In the beginning of the story the narrator informs readers of when the house burned down and of how she had watched Dee stand under the gum tree. She states that she wanted to ask her, "Why don't you do a dance around the ashes? Claiming that Dee had hated the house that much" (104). The narrator of the story then informs the reader of an incident in which Dee had wrote saying that no matter "where we choose to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends" (104). Dee's mother often daydreams that Dee and her would be brought together on a TV program and Dee would tell her how much she loves her and appreciates her for everything she has done. For example, the narrator states, "then we are on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes. She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks orchids are tacky flowers" (103). Based on this information we get a first insight on the character of Dee as one who is very selfish and unappreciative. Dee's motivations of self-centeredness is indicated by her return home after twelve years to reveal her name change, criticize her family, and...
Cited: Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama. Ed. X. J.
Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 9th ed. New York: Pearson, Longman, 2005. 102-09.
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