In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use,” symbolism and characterization are used to contrast the different values that two sisters place on their heritage. Maggie, the younger sister, is content with the simple things in life, while her older sister Dee is more materialistic and concerned with appearances.
Dee is symbolized by the quilts that she wants to take from her mother. These quilts have been passed down for generations, and represent the family’s history and traditions. To Dee, they are simply objects that can be sold or displayed as works of art. However, to Maggie, they are much more than that. She appreciates the history and sentimental value of the quilts and plans to use them in her own home.
The contrast between Dee and Maggie also extends to their characterization. Dee is depicted as being self-centered and insensitive, while Maggie is more humble and down-to-earth. This is best seen in the way that Dee treats her sister. She is always making fun of Maggie and putting her down, while Maggie simply accepts it. In the end, it is clear that Dee does not truly care about her family or heritage, while Maggie does.
The second approach to developing characters is to use the indirect technique, which entails telling about their activities and leaving room for readers to form their own impressions of them. Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a short piece that depicts the tensions between people with different attitudes and values concerning heritage. This tale is a dramatic narrative written in first person point of view, providing readers with a new way of looking at it
The protagonist, Mrs. Johnson, is a poor black woman who lives with her two daughters, Maggie and Dee. The story describes the conflict between Dee and Maggie about how to keep and use the family heritage.
On the one hand, Dee wants to change her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo and insists on keeping the quilts as “art.” On the other hand, Maggie agrees with her mother that the quilts are not art, but everyday items to be used and enjoyed. Through the conflict between Dee and Maggie, Alice Walker examines different attitudes toward heritage.
Dee’s attitude toward heritage is that it should be kept as “art.” She wants to change her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, which she thinks is more “authentic.” Dee also insists on keeping the quilts as “art.” She says, “Mama, please don’t put them on the bed. They’re not for everyday use. Quilts are for special occasions.” Dee’s idea of heritage is that it should be kept as a thing of beauty, to be admired and not used.
Maggie’s attitude toward heritage is that it should be used and enjoyed. Maggie agrees with her mother that the quilts are not art, but everyday items to be used and enjoyed. Maggie says, “I’ll take them. I can use them” when her mother offers to give the quilts to her. Maggie’s idea of heritage is that it should be used and enjoyed, not just kept as a thing of beauty.
In the tale, Dee, a black woman who has been educated, comes to her mother and younger sister Maggie. Dee is interested in several of the family’s everyday-used traditions, and she wishes to bring something back for art appreciation. Mama does not refuse any of Dee’s requests until she asks for the inherited quilt, which she wishes to give as a marriage dowry to her sister Maggie.
The short story Everyday Use by Alice Walker, is full of symbolism. The quilt is a significant symbol in the story. It was made by Dee’s and Maggie’s great-grandmother and other female ancestors. The quilts Mama has are all stitched with stories of the family, their life, and their history. The quilts are not only for decoration but also for utility; they keep people warm in winter. To Dee, the quilt is nothing but an old rag that should be thrown away; to Mama and Maggie, the quilt is a valuable part of their heritage, something to be used and appreciated every day.
Dee’s character is also symbolic. Dee represents the educated black person who has rejected her African roots in favor of a more “American” lifestyle. Dee is trying to distance herself from her family and their way of life, which she sees as backward and old-fashioned. She changes her name from Dee to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo to make her new identity more clear.
Mama and Maggie, on the other hand, represent the uneducated black people who have remained true to their African roots. Mama is a hardworking woman who has made sacrifices for her children. Maggie is a shy girl who has been scarred by a fire that burned down their house when she was young. Maggie is content with her life and does not want anything to change.
In the end, Dee takes the quilt but leaves Maggie with the real valuable heritage: the strength and wisdom of their ancestors.
Deed believes that her grandmother and mother, who have been guarding their culture for hundreds of years, are putting the riches to inappropriate use. She blames them for not knowing the value of those quilts since they do not appreciate it.
To convey the overall message that differences in people’s interpretations of history exist across society, from objective-oriented to subjective-oriented, and rivalries between them, this work of fiction makes use both direct and indirect representations of Dee, Maggie, and Mama.
The short story Everyday Use, written by Alice Walker, is about an African-American mother and her two daughters. The mother lives in the deep south during the civil rights movement. Her older daughter Dee goes to college up north and becomes interested in black culture and heritage. Maggie, the younger daughter, stays at home with her Mama.
When Dee comes back home for a visit, she brings her new boyfriend with her. Dee and Maggie have different ideas about what their heritage means to them and how it should be used. This conflict between the sisters is symbolic of the larger conflict in society between those who believe that history should be preserved and those who believe that it should be used to further present day goals.
Mama is a practical woman who believes in using things in their everyday life. To her, the quilts are not just pieces of cloth to be hung on the wall, but they are to be used to keep people warm at night. This is how she has always used them and this is how she believes they should continue to be used. Maggie agrees with her Mama and wants to use the quilts in the same way.
Dee, on the other hand, has a different idea about what the quilts represent. She sees them as symbols of her African-American heritage and wants to hang them up on the wall as art. Dee does not believe that they should be used for their original purpose because she feels that would be degrading them.