Everyday Use Analysis Essay

Words: 1685
Pages: 7

Ellen Johnson
Mr. Roberts
AP English 4
13 Apr 2010
Dee: the Sister Who Lost Her Identity Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" is a short story about the clash between a mother and daughter. Dee is the child returning home to visit. The visit is not exactly pleasant and ends after a stand-off between her and Mama. Many readers see Mama as finally standing up for her own ideals while also refusing to conform to the rules Dee wishes her to follow. Dee follows different rules of society and religion than her mother does in order to become her own person. The rules Dee follows are shallow compared to the old-fashioned ways of her mother. In "Everyday Use", Walker tells a story of a child who believes her mother's views to be old-fashioned and
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She wants these quilts so badly because they are stitched from old pieces of clothing, and there is even a small piece "from Great Grandpa Ezra's uniform that he wore in the Civil War" (Walker 93). Dee sees this information as beneficial to her image of coming from a poor oppressed black family and probably imagines herself sharing the story with friends when she is asked about the quilts. Farell states that Walker exposes Dee's superficiality and Mama's self-determination when Mama informs Dee that she was going to give the quilts to her Maggie. Dee is shocked and begins yelling at Mama (Walker 94). She attacks her mother's idea of giving them to her younger sister by exclaiming: "[b]ut they're priceless…Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they'd be in rags" (Walker 94). This is an ironic contrast to what she told her mother previously when Dee was offered the quilts. "I didn’t want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old fashioned, out of style" (Walker 94). Walker put these phrases next to each other in the story to demonstrate Dee's faux respect for her heritage and also to highlight her true intentions of using the quilts as a fashion statement. Dee is also trying to be more authentically black by dating a black Muslim. This is the man that Mama meets and calls "Asalamalakim", otherwise known