Alice Walker's "Everyday Use". Essay

1086 words - 4 pages

Dee is characterized as a controlling sibling who always wants to be the center of attention and is often referred to as the mistaken child. Dee's sister Maggie is a shy girl who was the victim of a horrible house fire that left her with unpleasant burns. The two sisters are polar opposites in the way that inner beauty verse outer beauty is a factor. Dee of course has the outer beauty, as where Maggie is the one with the inner beauty. "A reader condemns the older, more worldly sister, Dee as 'shallow,' 'condescending,' and 'manipulative,' as overly concerned with style, fashion, and aesthetics, and thus is lacking a "true" understanding of her heritage" (Farrell 1). Mama is the narrator who is in the middle of both of the sisters. Mama admits that Dee was a mistaken child and falls more kin to Maggie. Mama is characterized as a "big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands" (Walker 65). Although nothing is said about Mama's husband, it is obvious that Mama has taken over the job of keeping the house and property up. Walker says that the two daughters mirror her own internal struggles as Walker had when she was a child. (Washington) Throughout this essay, I will prove that Dee gets caught up in material possessions that will, in turn, lead to her downfall.Dee never liked Maggie, and Maggie was always terribly afraid of Dee. The reader understands Maggie's fear when they ironically catch the feeling that the house was set on fire by Dee because she constantly talked about how much she hated the house. "Dee, I see her standing off under the sweet gum tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall" (Walker 66). Ten to twelve years later Maggie is still hiding from Dee, waiting for her to leave, and when that day comes, there will be a sigh of relief.Dee was always into style and must have the best of everything. If something was given to her that was thought by others to be nice, she would change it completely to match her standards. "When Dee wants a new dress, she 'makes over' an old green suit someone had given to her mother" (Farrell 2). Instead of gladly accepting Mama's gift, Dee looked for all the imperfections and was sure to point them out. Dee acted as if she were the head of the family and had an excessive lack of discipline.Dee has the highest level of education in the family and wants to live a fuller and more materialistic life. "Because of Mama's second grade education, she takes pride in the practical aspects of her nature and does not spend much time contemplation her heritage." (White) She was always ashamed of her roots because Dee was the only one in her family educated about their roots. When Dee left the family, Maggie was a happy girl. The house was built exactly way it was before except for a tin roof. Maggie was certain that Dee would hate this house as well, for it looked the exact same as the old one. Maggie had sincere bonding time with Mama...

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