February 24, 2010
Maggie and Dee; Two Sisters, Two Worlds
The genuine appreciation of heritage and family is the focus of Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”. Dee and Maggie’s characters are the vessels that Walker uses to demonstrate the difference between appreciating possessions for their usefulness as well as their personal significance and their contrasting value as a trendy, materialistic connection. There is a palpable difference between Maggie and Dee, both in physical appearance as well as in personality traits and their treatment of the personal artifacts that come into play within the story is very telling of this.
Maggie, who is self-conscious of her appearance, and will “stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (140) is conscious of the practical uses of the artifacts. From the onset of the story we are made aware of the tenderness that their mother feels towards Maggie. Even in narrating her description of Dee, her thoughts wander back to the memory of their house burning and “Maggie’s arms sticking to me, her hair smoking, and her dress falling off her in little papery flakes” (141). In addition to her physical flaws, Maggie is described as not being very intelligent. “Like good looks and money, quickness passed her by” (142). Yet despite what could be considered as unfortunate traits, Maggie is blessed with a kinder, gentler, more likeable persona.
Imagine having suffered a tragic, deforming, childhood accident. Then picture a sibling counterpart who is, by all counts, blessed with good-looks and intelligence, and who “Even her feet were always neat-looking, as if God himself had shaped them with a certain style” (143). It would be understandable to have taken that bad stroke of life’s luck and become a bitter, angry individual. However, Maggie, despite her mousy demeanor, inherits her mother’s rooted nature and appreciation for their heritage....
Cited: Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan,
Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River; Prentice, 2007. 140 – 146.
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