The Characters in Walker’s “Everyday Use”
Mama, Maggie, and Dee Johnson are Alice Walker’s major characters in the story “Everyday Use”. Dee (Wangero) is the protagonist of the story representing the principal character of the literary work. Mama and Maggie are the antagonist of the work representing opposition against the protagonist (Dee).
Walker presents Dee, the older daughter as a figure that represents heritage as materialistic. She presents Mama and Maggie, the younger sister of Dee (Wangero) as an example that heritage in both form and knowledge travels from generation to generation through experiences and a learning connection. Walker shows in the story the mistake by some by putting the significance of heritage in material objects. When Dee (Wangero) comes home to visit her mother and sister, the contrast of them progresses a conflict because Dee uses the significance of heritage in her desire for racial heritage. The mother of two daughters, one self-seeking and stylish, the other timid and caring passes to the reader its true definition of heritage.
The mother in the story “Mama” (who is the narrator of the story) represented generations of the Johnson women heritage. The story is seen from the point of view of mama. Mama is a strong woman who can do all the work a man can do. “In real life, I am a large, big boned woman with rough, man working hands (444)”. “I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man (444)”. Mama’s insight of herself was “living in past times” type of life. “My fat keeps me hot in zero degree weather (444)”. As mama awaits for her daughters visits, she daydreams about of television shows when families are reunited. In her fantasy, she weighs less and is a brighter complexion. She immediately comes back to reality of slaughtering hogs and cattle and preparing meats for the winter. Mama has a certain point of view of how she views her two daughters. One she views as weak and fragile. The other one as smart and confident. In the story, mama and Maggie are portrayed as the flat characters because they tend to stay the same throughout the story. They had a point of view of what their ancestors did and maintained the traditions of the family. In contrast, Dee is the round character that changed and had a different insight of life to escape prejudice and poverty.
In the story 'Everyday Use' the narrator is telling a story about her life and two daughters, who are named Dee and Maggie. The narrator is very strong willed, honest, compassionate and very concerned with the lives of her two daughters. Her daughter Dee is not content with her lifestyle and makes it hard on Maggie and the narrator. The narrator is trying to provide for her family the best way she ...
Maggie is a very shy girl with low self esteem. “Mama frequently describes Maggie as a docile, somewhat frightened animal, one that accepts the hand that fate has dealt her and attempts to flee any situation posing a potential threat (183)”. She “Maggie”, who has remained with her chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground (444)”. “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes (443)”. Neither Maggie nor Mama are educated. “Sometime, Maggie reads to me (445)”. Maggie cherishes her past experiences with her past ancestors and the hand-made items in her life. She knows the history of them both. That is something that her sister does not have. Maggie was the sacred figure that knew how to convert patches into whole quilts. She was victimized by getting burned by the fire and wasn’t given the same opportunities as her sister Dee. Maggie’s perception of self is homely and ashamed of her burned scars on her legs and arms. She has a combination of jealousy and awe of her sister.
Dee, the protagonist of the story has a lighter complexion than Maggie, with nicer hair, and a fuller figure. Dee always wanted nice things and had a style of her own. Her sense of self was confident. In the story, Dee tries to connect with heritage from what her view of what “heritage” is. Unlike Maggie, who is “nervous” and shy, and mama who is “man-like and rough”, Dee is educated and confident. She tries to connect with her perception of heritage in the story. She changes her name from Dee to “Wangero”, a African name to feel more connected with her African roots (heritage).
The way in which a parent raises their child has a direct impact on the way the child perceives itself as well as how siblings perceive each other. In addition, the social atmosphere surrounding the child and any major crisis's that happen in their life, contribute to this perception. In the story " Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the daughters, "Dee" and "Maggie" are affected by all three ...
Although mama despises the name change,
“It is her love for her daughter Dee that enables Mama to call her “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” in acknowledgement of her new Afro identity, but her strong love for her other child, the passive Maggie, which enables her to resist Dee/Wangero’s demand for old quilts (Maggie’s wedding present) to decorate her apartment (196)”. Her sense of self as (Dee) no longer exists. “She’s dead,” Wangero said. “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me (29)”.
She didn’t understand her real name and decides to change it without understanding her original one. She now styles and dresses herself in the “africanism” styles. She also asks to have items such as the churn top and the bench which she will use “just for show”. Those items are everyday use items for Mama and Maggie.
In the story, Dee (Wangero) is significant to the action of the story that causes the conflict between the family and the heritage. Wangero despises her sister, her mother, and the church that helped to educate her. Dee visits the family with a selfish quest and her primary motivation of acquiring items to show off to others that she has “heritage”. Maggie represents a person who must suffer while the “lucky sister” escapes the harsh conditions. Maggie is the She attempted to retrieve a churn top, dasher, and two quilts. “This Churn top is just what I need (447)”. “Oh mama, I never knew how lovely these benches are (447)”.She wanted to hang the quilts on the wall. She wants these items because she sees that each of them have representation of the past to show off, not the value of their heritage.
Dee’s wants of the handmade quilts that her past ancestors had made results in a conflict between the family. “Mama, can I have these old quilts (448)”? She feels like the quilts are priceless, and tells her mom that she doesn’t want the other quilts that her mother offered her because they were stitched around the boarder by machine. She says “There are all pieces of dresses Grandma used to wear. She did all this stitching by hand. Imagine! (448).
Mama didn’t want to give Dee (Wangero) the quilts because Maggie was the one who had real appreciation for them. Dee’s journey for heritage is external, not inside, so therefore she does not fully understand her motivation of acquiring the quilts as part of a fragile heritage. She only wished to have the items in order to showcase them in her house. Mama knew that a real connection existed with Maggie and her heritage. “Mama knew that it was Goodman Dee and Big Dee who taught Maggie how to quilt herself (448)”. Because of that, mama takes the quilts from Dee who “held the quilts securely in her arms, stroking them clutching them closely to her bosom” (448) and told Maggie that they were hers. That action showed that mama realized that Dee had the wrong idea about heritage and that Maggie didn’t. Dee “considers herself as cultured, and beyond the class of the lives lived by Mama and Maggie. She makes her feelings obvious when she attempts to “take” the quilts Mama had promised to give to Maggie: “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts… she’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use” (103).
Mama's Daughters In Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," tells us a story of two daughters', Dee and Maggie Johnson, with different ideas about their identities and values. Dee a young woman who, in the course of a visit to the rural home she thinks she has outgrown, attempts unsuccessfully to divert some fine old quilts, earmarked for the dowry of a sister, into her own hands. Dee is Mrs. ...
In reality, the quilts are really made for “everyday use” in the African culture. In Dee’s final words when leaving the family, she ironically misuses the concept of heritage.
“What don’t I understand?” I wanted to know”. “Your heritage,” she said. And then she turned to Maggie, kissed her and said. “You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It’s a new day for us. But from the way you and mama live you’d never know it (45).”
Mama, Maggie and Dee (Wangero) Dee are show as representations of the heritage and culture of African. They are good guide to understanding the identity struggle that African Americans went through during that period of time. Dee in the story is a selfish character that has a naive understanding of what heritage really is. Dee “considers herself as cultured, and beyond the lower quality of the lives lived by her mother and sister. Quilting in this story symbolizes the process out of which the unimportant and meaningless may be altered into the prized and useful. That’s why I say that Dee uses the significance of heritage in her desire for racial heritage. Dee comes off as selfish and unappreciative. In reality, it was Mama and Maggie that were aware of their heritage. The three main characters, Dee, Mama, and Maggie give this story its influence. Dee (Wangero) shows the misguidance and self struggles of the time period in this story. Mama and Maggie reveal the importance in preserving their culture in this story.
The place where you hang your hat, where the heart is, is a link to the past, and through its door one walks into the future: home can be many things t one person. To many Georgians, home is the place where they come from, the place where the family line can be traced from memories and keepsakes. In "Everyday Use", Alice Walker explores the importance of home to a family of three women in Georgia. ...