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Autor: anton 17 April 2011
Words: 1110 | Pages: 5
In Alice Walkers story "Everyday Use" she uses the mother to narrate the story.
Through humorous comments, the mother paints a picture of what she is thinking, and allows the audience to see her as she is, and not as the world and those around her perceive her to be. Specifically the mother describes the characters appearance, and actions, as well as offers analogies, such as mothers on T.V. To support her view of reality, or how things really were, in her opinion. As the story progressed, she reveals cultural differences between Mama, Maggie and Dee. Walker also points out the importance of respecting your immediate heritage such as parents, and other family, and truly knowing and internalizing the real meaning of racial and cultural pride, from those who have gone before us.
First, the mother affectionately called Mama describes Maggie her younger daughter. Mama tells us that Maggie has burn scars on her arms and legs from a fire at their old house. She didn't actually say that Dee set the fire but she implied that she did (107). The mother describes the way Maggie walks by comparing her to a dog that has been run over by a car. The mother said, "she has always been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle" (107). According to the mother Maggie thinks her sister has always held life in the palm of her hands (106). Mama describes herself as a large woman big boned she called herself rough, with manly working hands, taking pride in her ability to "kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as any man" (107). Mama feels Dee would want her to be
a hundred pounds lighter, with hair that glistens in the light. Mama describes Dee which changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo as, "lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure (107) Mama thought that Dee's feet were always neat looking as if they had a style of their own (109). Mama recognizes Maggie's pain, and poor self-image. As a Mother she knows in her heart that Maggie needs comforting, and special care, but this is not given in ways that mother's portrayed in the media might offer it, but it's given none the less. She is protective, and loving to Maggie. Mama realizes that Dee who is lighter skinned, and with other physical attributes admired by others will fare better in life, although she acknowledges some of Dee's flaws to herself. She also recognizes that Dee is better able to care for herself.
Second, there were some cultural differences, Maggie and Mama lived in a house located in a pasture with animals, and you could tell through Mama's description of Dee that she was more modernized probably a city Girl. When Dee/Wangero came to visit she wore a bright dress with loud colors, bangles and gold earrings. Mama said Dee's dress had so many yellows and oranges it was enough to throw back the sun (109). Maggie wore a pink skirt and red blouse that enveloped her body (107). Dee was an educated woman having graduated from High School. Mama on the other hand never made it past the second grade because the school she attended was closed down in 1927. Mama said that, "Colored asked fewer questions than they do now" referring to why the school closed (109). Circumstances such as age, education, and living arrangements dictated their
values. Mama was proud of her skills on the farm. She knew her heritage, even if she couldn't read or write, and was proud of it. She could tell you the why and the who. Maggie in her self-defacing way also displayed real attachment to her heritage. Dee on the other hand appeared to be more interested in show.
Thirdly, Dee changed her name to Wangero because she said, "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me." (110) How in the world could her own family oppress her? Dee/Wangero had no knowledge of the fact that she was named after her aunt who was called Big Dee after she was born or that Big Dee was named after her grandmother. She never took pride in being named after her Aunt, she just came up with the idea that she was being oppressed and stuck with it. Dee wanted Mama's quilts that she, grandmother and Big Dee made. Inside the Quilts were pieces of Grandpa Jarrell's Paisley shirt, Grandma Dee's dresses worn more than fifty years ago, and a little teeny patch of Great Grandpa Ezra's uniform that he wore in the civil war, (111) Until this day Dee had now idea of the love that was put into making the quilts. These were made to knit her ancestors past and present together and to keep them comforted and warm when needed. The only thing Dee knew about the quilts was that they were old. Actually, when Dee was growing up, Mama asked Dee did she want a quilt to take to college and Dee said, "They were old -fashioned, out of style". (112) Dee/Wangero also asked for Mama's Butter Churn, and Dasher that Uncle Buddy, Aunt Dee's first husband whittled from a tree in their backyard. Mama ran her fingers across the dasher remembering the history behind it. She could still feel the imprints from the fingers that put the dasher to everyday use. Dee as a child never appreciated things that were custom made with love, and now that she is an adult she thinks that she is entitled to everything and anything she wants.
In conclusion, Alice Walker uses descriptive phrases and words during the unfolding of her story. She tells us that Maggie is scarred not only physically, but mentally by the way she carries herself. Mama's ability to pronounce the African names, and Dee and her companion's negating or put down of Mama's ability and knowledge displays their ignorance they were condescending. The picture taking was not to capture loving remembrances for the future, but to put her family on display. Dee/Wangero came home only to see what she could obtain for a collection. After Dee went off to school she was educated on how important things that were passed down from generation to generation should be valued. However, Dee really didn't care about her heritage, only Mama and Maggie really appreciated and preserved their families memories by putting the items from their past to Every Day Use.
Alice Walker "Everyday Use." Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Ed. Elizabeth McMahon, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice, 2004. 3-6.
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