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Character Analysis Of Maggie Johnson In "Everyday Use" By Alice Walker

1518 words - 6 pages

When two daughters are raised alike yet live differently, there is a fine line of distinction between the traits and aspirations of the two, as Alice Walker drew portraits of three women in a family in "Everyday Use". Maggie Johnson was the youngest of the two daughters, and her older sister Dee had gone to college and hadn't been home in over a decade. Maggie stayed at her mother's side, to make a life for herself that seemed suitable for her. In this story, Maggie is a fragile young woman, however a strong character that is opposite of her sister Dee, who underestimates Maggie for the person she is.The story takes place at 'mama's' house, where Maggie and Mrs. Johnson were at their home waiting for Dee to come for a visit. She had gone off to Georgia for college to make a bigger and better life, and was coming home to visit her family. The story was set after their first home had burned down, when Maggie was incidentally burned and scarred at a young age. Maggie is more developed as a character once Dee arrives at the home.The traits of Maggie were apparently different from Dee in that she wasn't handed life's opportunities and when it came to Dee, "that, 'no' is a word the world never learned to say to her" (73). This statement in the beginning of the story brings an understanding as to the feelings that Maggie has conjured up while living in the shadow of an older sister. Alice Walker molded one daughter from the other, taking the strengths and qualities of Dee and omitting them in Maggie. Although Maggie does have strengths of her own, she is a character that unfortunately has a simple life and has made complex problems for herself. Learning more about Maggie's character could be drawn from learning about Dee's character as well. Maggie seems to be the pessimist, although she is only reacting to her sisters dramatic and overbearing presence. This shows true symbolic meaning when Dee arrives at their home and wants to take all of the important family valuables (hand-stitched quilts, butter churn, etc.) back to her 'home'. It is these valuables that bring out the worst characteristics in Dee, and the best in Maggie. These symbolize how much Maggie cares about family values and things kept within a family for certain purposes, and how much Dee would rather , "use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table" (77) than use the churn top to actually churn.Dee wanted some of the quilts that her mother and Grandma stitched together before she had passed away. Mama had promised Maggie that she would get the quilts when she married John Thomas, and Dee was outraged. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use" (77). This statement alone centralizes and expresses the theme of this story. Dee was accusing Maggie of caring about sentimental family valuables, and that is, to Dee, backward. It almost sums Dee up by saying that she's the backward character in this story. She is built up to seem like a strong and driven woman, but...

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