The story “Everyday Use” tells the story of a mother and her two daughter's differing views about their identities and heritage. In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker uses descriptive imagery and metaphors to communicate to readers the importance of heritage. She also shows how it is a part of life that is meant to be shared with each generation. The main characters in this story, "Mama" and Maggie on one side, Dee on the other, each have conflicting views on various items of historical and cultural significance. In the story Maggie and Mama are anticipating the return of Dee who has been away at school. They have never particularly got along due to their differences, though they seem to be at least amicable towards each other. While Maggie values their history in the traditional sense, with everyday acknowledgement of how important these things are, Dee portrays their heritage as something that’s meant to be shown off. Although Maggie and Dee appear to both value their heritage, in reality they see the concept in totally different ways.
From the moment Dee was introduced in “Everyday Use” it was clear that she saw things a lot different than her family had. Early on it was established that Dee and Maggie were polar opposites.
Alice Walker states “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (71). With this Walker gives an example of how Dee and Maggie were different not only in their views of heritage, but also in their appearance. As the story continues, Mama speaks of a time where she thought Dee hated Maggie. She describes an incident that resulted in the burning of their previous house. Although never directly stated, it was apparent that Maggie was severely injured in the fire. Walker states “Sometimes I can still hear the flames and feel Maggie's arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black papery flakes. Her eyes seemed stretched open, blazed open by the flames reflected in them” (71). In this statement Walker uses imagery to show the effect the fire had on Maggie.
Mama goes on to further detail how the fire had affected Dee. Walker states “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 in toward the red hot brick chimney. Why don't you do a dance around the ashes? I'd wanted to ask her. She had hated the house that much” (71). In this statement, Walker gives off the impression that Dee...