Essay about Understanding The Differences Of Dee And Maggie In Alice Walkers

Submitted By Cthompson155
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Understanding the Differences of Dee and Maggie in Alice Walkers “Everyday Use” The comparison of characters is something an author allows us to do while reading a story. They do so by, describing to us the characters appearance, personality, lifestyle, and any other unique qualities that might help illustrate someone. In the story Alice Walkers “Everyday Use”, it is written from a mother’s point of view as she talks about her two daughters, Maggie and Dee, and how different they are. They are both similar in some ways yet, have very individual personalities, physical appearances, and perspective on things. Truly, apart from the fact that they are sisters, the text establishes little similarity between Maggie and Dee. Consider how Maggie is introduced in the first paragraph:
Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: She will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She think her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her. (Walker 491)
Mrs. Johnson is indicating that Maggie has been shy and reserved for most of her life, or at least after the house fire. Whereas when she goes on explaining Dee later in the text she mentions “Dee, though. She would always look anyone in the eye. Hesitation was no part of her nature.” (Walker 492) Dee is confident, outgoing, ambitious and determined to make something of life, “She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts.”(Walker 492) whereas Maggie is shy, reclusive and passive. Obviously polar opposites when it comes to confidence and self-esteem. The text also contains evidence that even in appearance the two sisters differ. Dee is described as “lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (Walker 492) whereas Maggie is described not so nicely. Mrs. Johnson even refers to Maggie as looking like a “lame animal” clearly she makes these points known to also explain the sever differences between the two daughters. Even when she recalls her memories of the fire:
Sometimes I still hear the flames and feel Maggie’s arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black peppery flakes. Her eyes seemed stretched open, blazed open by the flames reflected in them. And Dee. I see her standing off under the sweet gum tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red-hot brick chimney (Walker 492).
Even during the fire it points out distinct differences in the way the girls reacted to the fire. Another huge difference between Dee and Maggie would be their educations. Dee whom was sent to college thanks to Mrs. Johnson and the church that raised the funds for her to attend school, “She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice.” (Walker 492) but for Maggie things were very different, she stayed with her mother throughout this time learning the ways of how to take care of the house and such. “She stumbles along good-naturedly but can’t see well. She knows she’s not bright.” (Walker 492) The biggest contrast between the two sisters by far would have to be there ideas of heritage, this is what the story is about is the true meaning of heritage and frankly Dee does not have a proper understanding of this meaning. She comes to her mother’s home in search of family heirlooms to show off in her home. Dee views her African