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Everyday Use by Alice Walker - Research Paper Example

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Name Surname Supervisor Subject Date Family Conflict in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” Written in1973, Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” foregrounds the conflict within an African American family. The short story portrays Mama, a single mother, and her relationship with her daughters, Dee and Maggie…
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Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Download file to see previous pages... Indeed, the difference between the sisters explains why Mama places much hope in Dee and puts her in the path of success while Maggie remains home, uneducated and lame. Nevertheless, by the end of the play, Mama realizes her mistake and redeems her docile and valuable daughter. The short story points out not only the difference between Dee and Maggie, but also Mama’s relationship with each of her children. The contrast between Dee and Maggie is overwhelming and reflects their different personalities. Mama, as the narrator of the story, dramatizes the difference even more: “Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks” (Walker 121). This pitiful description is the image Mama has about her daughter. Injured when the house they used to live in burnt down, Maggie still carries the impact of the accident with her. Mama explains her physical difference from her sister: “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and fuller figure” (Walker 121). This physical difference is closely related to their different personalities. This statement reveals: “We must remember from the beginning that the story is told by Mama; the perceptions are filtered through her mind and her views of her two daughters are not to be accepted uncritically. Several readers have pointed out that Mama's view of Maggie is not quite accurate” (Farrell). Indeed. Regardless of the lack of physical beauty Mama perceives, Maggie has an inner beauty that her mother fails to grasp. Apart from the physical difference, another major handicap for Maggie is the lack of education. Although Dee gets the chance to go to college, Maggie stays home and mainly strives to read and write on her own. Maggie’s injury makes her a victim and causes her to suffer an unequal treatment compared to her sister. Instead of getting Maggie a proper treatment allowing her to enjoy a better healing, Mama and the community prefer to collect money and give Dee an education. Talking about Dee, Mama asserts: “I used to think she hated Maggie, too. But that was before we raised the money, the church and me, to send her to Augusta to school” (Walker 125). Meanwhile, Maggie is left home to strive by herself with her physical and moral scars with no formal education and no professional counseling for the unfortunate accident she has been through. This article informs: “Maggie is the aggregate underclass that has been left behind as a handful of Wangeros achieve their independence-an underclass scarred in the collective disasters Walker symbolizes neatly in the burning of the original Johnson home” (Cowart). Besides, attending college changes Dee completely as she questions her identity and chooses another name. Her return home makes her transformation more visible and creates clashes of views with her mother and sister. According to this critic: “Many readers point to Dee's proclamation of her new name as the turning point in the story, the point at which Dee pushes her mother too far. They point out that Dee is rejecting her family heritage and identity in this scene” (Farrell). This name change deeply hurts Mama who finally realizes Dee is not the person she thought she was. Mama assimilates Dee’s rejection of her name to the rejection of her family and inheritance and becomes conscious that the expectations she placed on Dee were too ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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