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Everyday Use

In Alice WalkerÆs Everyday Use, we discover Mama and her two daughters, Maggie, who still lives at home, and Dee, a cosmopolitan young lady who lives away from her family. The story opens with MamaÆs announcement that she and Maggie are waiting on the return of Dee for a visit. We know that Dee has been favored by her mother and Dee seems to Maggie to live in a world that has never denied her desires. As the story opens, the narrator, Mama, tells us: ôI will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon,ö (Walker, p. 1173).

Like the return of a princess, Mama and the ôhangdogö and ôslowö Maggie await DeeÆs return. However, we are told that ôMaggie will be nervous until her sister goes,ö (Walker, p. 1173). She will be nervous because she has always been devalued in comparison to Dee by her mother and, once she returns, by Dee herself. While Mama is complicit in DeeÆs being favored, when Dee demands the quilts made by MamaÆs mother that are for MaggieÆs wedding gift, Mama finally puts her foot down and favors Maggie at DeeÆs expense. This is because Mama realizes that despite DeeÆs qualities, she has more in common with Maggie and they share a greater mother and daughter bond and connection to their heritage than Dee ever will.

We see that Mama makes many distinctions between her daughters Maggie and Dee that favor Dee. Maggie has dark-skin but ôDee is lighterö and has ônicer hair and a fuller figureö than Maggie, (Walker, p. 1174). Mama also admits that Maggie is slow and ôknows she is not bright,ö for ôlike good looks and money, quickness passed her by,ö (Walker, p. 1175). Dee, in contrast, has always gotten what she wants, and Dee has always ôwanted nice thingsö that the familyÆs lack of education and poverty could not provide, (Walker, p. 1175). When their house burns down and Dee seems delighted to watch the house ôshe had hatedö turn to ashes, M...

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Everyday Use. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:00, May 28, 2020, from