Everyday Use Identity

Submitted By 94nana94na
Words: 731
Pages: 3

Dee Self identity has been a prevalent issue within the African American culture since it was stripped from our ancestors decades ago. It has and still is common for African Americans to delve back into the past to gain understanding about their history, heritage, and culture. In Alice Walker’s, “Everyday Use” utilizes the accounts of the protagonist Dee while she searches for personal meaning and a stronger sense of self. In contrast to her sister Maggie, a round character that transforms from a shy and timid girl to a confident and comfortable young woman, Dee is portrayed as a flat character whom seeks self growth but falls flat and remains selfish, ignorant, and with a false definition of the African American identity. Born and raised in a poverty stricken home in the South Dee wants nothing more than to escape her “hard” life where she lived with her mother and sister. Anxious to get away Dee is more than happy to go to college when the community and Church raised money to send her to Augusta for schooling. Dee always saw herself above her family and looked down upon them as she, “read to us [her mother and Maggie] without pity. . . [we were] sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. . .Dee wanted nice things. . . and was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts” (217). Dee has never been grateful for what she has and was eager to

Turner 2 leave, leave behind her family, her town, and everything she knew in order to escape the place she saw no future for herself in. Dee’s hope for self growth is misguided she views life through such a narrow minded looking glass her that chances of growth are little to none. Dee returns home with the same mindset that she is still above everyone and the fact that she is educated and “in touch” with her heritage only makes her better. Hopeful for a change in attitude upon Dee’s arrival home, Maggie and her mama’s dreams are short lived. Dee steps out of the car over dressed in bright colors with several noise making bracelets and introduces herself as, “Wangero Leewankia Kemanjo!” (219) because she, “. . . couldn’t bear . . .being named after the people who oppress [her]” (220). Her mother attempts to explain that her name itself holds history and meaning as she was named after her several generations of strong African American woman that formed the building blocks for the family. Dee no longer see’s her Maggie and her mother as family but as oppressed and uneducated people with no understanding of who they are or where they come from, however it is Dee that believes she has found a new light when in reality her conformist thought process shows blatant ignorance toward her very own family history. Dee continues her charades as she bounces through the house picking up multiple items that hold sentimental value and