Alice Walker's Everyday Uses

Decent Essays
In most households of not only the United States but from around the world, families face many conflicts. These conflicts can stem from any number of things, and often lead to more personal implications. Some family member may be upset with a choice of another, possibly by how they chose to care for their possessions or the people around them. Every single family has faced a conflict similar to this, has encountered an experience that causes issues that impact every member of the family. In fact, Alice Walker describes a family who faces similar issues, Maggie’s family. Maggie’s family consists of herself, her mother, and her old sister Dee, a small but dysfunctional family. In fact, Dee has essentially gone off the deep end in this story, …show more content…
The reason in which these two quilts cause so many issues among the family is because they were originally designated to go to Maggie, the younger, less recognized daughter. In fact, this conflict, and many of the underlying issues are what inspired Alice Walker to name this story ‘Everyday Uses’ such as the differing interpretations, the balance of power, and the evolving traditions and heritage of the family. ‘Everyday Uses’ can be interpreted in many different ways, similar to how the characters of the story displayed conflicting interpretations of the use of the treasured quilts can often provide one of many explanations of the curious title by Alice Walker. While the family members were fighting over who deserved the quilts, some of the reasoning that Dee ‘deserved’ it was because she would be able to care properly for under her direction. While this statement was already making the fight worse, she also said that Maggie would not be able to care for it, and would only use it for everyday use. She explained further …show more content…
When examining the Johnson family, there is a definite hierarchy that is displayed from scene to scene. From the top of the pyramid moving down, the family would be ordered in Dee, Momma, and then Maggie. Dee displays many traits of overconfidence and extreme criticism of others. Momma, while she means well, is very unable to control Dee and her various shenanigans. While finally, Maggie is continually put down and hurt by her older sister to no avail, “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burned scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe,” (Pg. 1312). Clearly, Maggie has had to face for hardships than Dee, and has often been discouraged by Dee for various reasons. The idea of this unbalanced amount of power between the characters is definitely brought into play through the fight of the quilts. A major theme that the entire family often encounters is how they are not all equal to each other. When Dee and Momma have a major fight over the quilts and how Maggie would only use the quilts for everyday use is when this hierarchy of power comes further into play. Dee holds herself as though she is much higher than the rest of the family and she also acts as though her moral actions are

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Her behavior is wild and fierce which Hester states by saying, "She could recognize her wild, desperate, defiant mood, the flightiness of her temper, and even some of the very cloud-shapes of gloom and despondency that had brooded in her heart." Pearl is a little bit crazy because she is probably frustrated due to the fact that she has no friends and her only friend is her mother. Pearl does change her personality when she gets older and she finally gets to meet her father, Dimmesdale. There is a distinctive change in personality where Dimmesdale and Pearl meet at the scaffold because she has seemed to act calm and not as crazy when she is with her father. Possibly her attitude changes because she has always wanted her family to be whole again or the fact that she has someone else to be with.…

    • 1603 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Sisters with Different Aspects In the short story “Everyday Use” Maggie and Dee are two sisters but are different from each other. Both have different personalities such as things they have faced throughout their lives. The sisters grow up together with their mother by their side, but they both grow up with different things on their minds. Maggie is a girl that contrasts herself from her sister after she had an accident: “she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (166). She does not feel confident in herself after what had happened to her as a little girl.…

    • 931 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Even the word “motherly” breath of suburb horrified her. Esther’s anger toward her mother is one of the key for her psychoses due to increase demands with her work. "the worst. She never scolded me, but kept begging me, with a sorrowful face, to tell her what she had done wrong" According to some of the passage from the novel, her mother is being dictatorial yet knowing nothing. Mrs Greenwood also presents a paragon for the difference between her generations from Esther.…

    • 1798 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    I wanted to know. “She’s dead," Wangero said. "I couldn 't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me. So the Example of conflict happened when Ma and Wangero were in confliction on page 4 of the story. This demonstrates how Dee is different from everyone else she is treated more difficultly by mama and by her sister Maggie because she chose to do something different like choosing a different name throwing out her rich name of heritage.…

    • 1399 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    All of them have different personalities and throughout the story Alice Walker shows how they react with each other and how family doesn’t always get along harmoniously. The narrator of the story is the mom of the two sisters. At the beginning of the story the mother dots over Dee, even imagining herself with Dee on a tv show, but as the story progresses and she sees how full of herself Dee is, and how willing Maggie is to put up with it so in the end she says no to Dee who wants quilts which are supposed to be Maggie’s marriage gift. The mom is described as “a large, big boned woman with rough, man working hands.” She even goes on to say, “I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man”. She is shown as a strong character with a bias to see both her daughters through rose colored…

    • 889 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For example the mother in "I Stand Here Ironing," had blamed herself for not being able to give Emily the attention that she needed, because she was either always working or tending to the newborn sister named Susan and she had felt that this led to the resentment that Emily had for Susan, while in the story "Everyday Use," the mother had blamed herself because even though you never know the outcome of a fire, she had felt that it was her fault for Maggie getting hurt and scarred for life and while Dee was not hurt at all, Maggie felt as if Dee had the perfect life, which led to resentment. There was also some resentment that the mother had toward Dee the older daughter. This was simply because Dee had furthered her education at a college level which none of her family had done before and she would try to force everything that she was learning on them. The mother did not like it because she felt as if Dee thought she was better than her mother and her sister Maggie. The mother's resentment towards Dee had also stemmed from the boyfriend that Dee had chosen.…

    • 926 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Dee and hakim-a-barber have made attempts to leave their history behind and move on with their new identity. The other daughter Maggie who’s burned skin in both arms and legs meant that she has gone through a lot in her life and all those events have put so much pressure on her that she’s become so fragile and timid represented a strong woman fighting for survival between a mother that does not understand her and a sister whose thoughts are only about her health and what comes for her. “Mama Johnson is looking at Maggie “hard” and sees something in her…

    • 1197 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Pearl constantly stirred trouble and pain for her mother, especially when it came to Hester’s personal misery, “‘Was ever such a child!’ observed Hester aside to the minister. ‘Oh, I have much to tell thee about her! But, in very truth, she is right as regards this hateful token. I must bear its torture yet a little longer-’” (165). Pearl made Hester feel even more unbefitting than she already felt when playing with the “A” her mother wore upon her chest.…

    • 1015 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Because Margot is too old to be sharing a room with a man. Anne finds difficult to share her because he is always hogging it, and as Anne says in The Diary of Anne Frank the play “…. He is always messing with my things.” And then there is Margot her sister. Anne is always comparing her to her older sister, who she thinks is prettier. In The Diary of Anne Frank the play Anne asks Margot, “ Margot am I terribly ugly?” Anne Frank also has Problems with her mother , like all teenagers do.…

    • 892 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    “Conflict grows out of ignorance and suspicion,” Gordon Hinckley so accurately wrote. As seen in the story “All the Silent Sounds,” the main characters Deya and Afeera are constantly seen as opposing forces. Most of the conflict arises from Afeera 's refusal to accept positive changes in society and her continuous mistrust and condemnation of Deya 's desires and choices. Deya wants to make her own way and choices in life while Afeera insists that Deya follows with Aferera 's traditional cultural upbringing, a lifestyle of women marrying young and having many children. Afeera demands her granddaughter stick with her traditions and values, while Deya demands her freedom.…

    • 1023 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays

Related Topics