Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”
An interesting thing about Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is the fact that it seems to be told from the Mama’s eyes, rather than from one of the, arguably, main characters. This only allows the reader to see Mama’s bias in the entire situation. Because of this bias between her children, the reader can see the stark contrast of the two sisters. Alice tries to portray the importance of embracing heritage and the vulgarity of disregarding the purpose of things for one’s own pleasure.
Maggie is introduced as someone who was shy and walked like “a lame animal” sidling up to someone who “was ignorant enough to be kind” (156). This is partly because of her self-consciousness of the scar scattering her arms and legs. Dee, by comparison, is the picture of confidence. She walks and speaks as if the world owes her everything she ever asks for. She feels powerful for getting away from what she ...view middle of the document...
Mama understands that Dee, though she thinks she is, will not honor her heritage as it was meant to be honored. She wants to be showy and be able tell everyone what kind of horrible life she led and how she made it out and made something out of herself. Maggie will use the items that Dee wants, because that is what they were meant for. Dee seemingly being completely unaffected by their home burning down is another point of her not respecting her heritage. The house had been her childhood home and seemed to have been passed down generations. Her mother knew she hated the house. But, when she comes to visit, she takes pictures and “never takes a shot without making sure the house is included” (158). There seems to be a bitter undertone to this statement, because Mama can already see where this is going. Dee just wants to display her heritage, so she can brag about how she ended up better than what was set out for her. Maggie embraces her life in the house and following in the footsteps of her mother and all those before. Maggie is the one to truly honor her heritage, in Mama’s eyes.
Dee was always the smart child. Her mother knew that she was meant to get an education, and did everything in her power to get her there. Growing up, Dee would always explain things or try to read to her mother and sister, but always give up on them right before they could catch on. She continuously made them feel slow and unworthy of her time. Maggie was always slower than Dee. She could read, but it was hard and slow-going, but she still tried. Things did not come naturally to Maggie, nor would they ever. Education showed an important difference between the two sisters. However, it also showed how much ones’ family can feel like outcasts and worthless because their education is lesser. Dee does not understand, but Mama, and possibly Maggie, knows that no knowledge is worthless. The knowledge that Dee has, was taught by teachers at a university. The knowledge taught to Mama and Maggie was taught to them by the world and their ancestors. They honor their heritage everyday by continuing to learn and utilize their ancestors’ wisdom.
One minor difference, is in there husbands-to-be.