In the short story, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, we are introduced to two distinctly different views of the African-American culture. The story depicts the 1960ish life of Mama and her two daughters, Maggie and Dee. As we are introduced to this family, it is apparent immediately that Mama and Dee see their heritage as African-American women in two starkly differing ways. It is also apparent that neither Mama nor Dee appreciates the views or the societal stations of the other. Contrasting one against the other, we come to a very real conclusion; at the heart of their disdain for one another, is pride. In Mama, we experience the pride of self-sufficiency, of survival, ...view middle of the document...
She has a deep love and appreciation for her yard, the peaceful, extended living room she and her guests enjoy on a breezy afternoon. She continues to use the handmade necessities made for her by family members during times when purchasing such items was out of the question. She cherishes the memories of the family sitting on the front porch quilting and using the old clothing of loved ones as the cloth.
Her life is hers and she breathes in the satisfaction of a good days work as she changes into her flannels for bed.
The picture painted of Dee by Mama is one of selfishness and snobbery. We are told that from a young age, Dee despised her meager home and uneducated family.
Mama recollects Dee reading to the family. Not for personal pleasure or for the family’s enjoyment, but to keep them “…trapped and ignorant underneath her voice.” (Walker 1127) She read to them using a yardstick, measuring herself far above that of her illiterate audience.
Embarrassed by her upbringing, Dee desired finery: dresses, jewelry, and shoes. She wanted boys to desire her and girls to envy her. She wanted a different life, and quite possibly a different family.
All grown up now, Dee visits the house she swore she would never bring friends to. However, she has brought a friend, a gentleman friend. They step out of the car adorned in 60’s pseudo-ethnic garb with camera in hand to chronicle Dee’s “heritage”. She has cast off the life of her oppressors and has taken a new name, “Wangero”. She has also cast off her Christian upbringing and has taken up with a Muslim man.