Every day Use is a short story whish was written by Alice Walker and published in 1093 as part of her short story collection entitled in love and trouble. The story is narrated in first person by Mama who is a mother living in the South with one of her two daughters Maggie. The story describes the very day living of a low income African-American family. The character Mama is a very powerful and strong willed large woman who is very content with her abilities to perform every task that man can do. She has two daughters Dee and Maggie but Dee is a very unique and opposite in her upbringing as compared to Maggie who is raised more like her a mother. Dee is an adult and she was lucky to go to college in her family. While growing up she was very ashamed of her oppressive roots and where she came from but when she got educated she started appreciating her culture and heritage though in an over exaggerated way.
While mama and Maggie awaits for Dee to visit them the burn scars which Maggie had sustained in the past when Dee had burnt their previous house makes Mama to day dream which was interrupted by Dee’s arrival. Dee in contrary to her previous claims of not bringing her friends friend to their home, she came visiting with Hakim-a barber and strangely in contrast to Mama’s daydreaming of Dee hating their current house she starts taking photos of her family in front of their house. Dee then inform her mother that she had changed her name to be different from her oppressive ancestors followed by her complementing many household items including the butter Chan and quilts which she had hated in the past when she told her mother that such things were old fashioned when she had requested her to take them to college. Consequently, Dee insists on taking the guilt’s but her mother tries to explain to Dee about the meaning and importance of those guilt’s but Dee walks out and Mama opts to give the guilt’s to Maggie as she had promised her (Whitsitt, 455).
Analysis of Dee’s character
In the short story “Everyday Use” Dee is portrayed as bad daughter for mama and this clearly evident when mama in the initial stages of the story describes her to selfish, complicated, arrogant and materialistic person who disowned her heritage for somebody’s else’s. The traits which Dee has is contrary to her mothers who instead values her heritage and culture and believes that it can not be represented by possession of objects or mere appearance but rather represented by ones lifestyle and attitudes. Dee is portrayed to be materialistic, complex and living a modern ways of life where culture and heritage are valued for her trendy ness as well as its aesthetic appeal rather than her mothers simplistic belief of valuing for its usefulness and personal significance.
In this analysis it can be argued that Dee though portrayed as an opposite of Mama’s believes and values she is not bad person but rather unique and different from her mother and sister. One of the evidence that reveal that Dee is not a bad person is that despite being insensitive to some degree she helps offer a strategy by which contemporary African-Americans can cope with their oppressive societies. This is because given the fact that Dee changes her name so that she does not share similar one with her oppressive ancestors means that she doesn’t change her name because she hates her roots but rather because she hates what she grew up in. This becomes even clear when she changes her African name to another African name implying that she still values her culture and heritage.
Another evidence that Mama offers that indicate that Dee is not a bad person is seen in the introductory part of the story where she promises to wait for her in the yard that they made so clean and wavy the previous day while with Maggie. This implies that her mind is still occupied with Dee despite her being different from her. She says that Maggie will be cowed when her sister visits and that she will be nervous till Dee returns while she corners homely and ashamed of her burn scars. More so she thinks that Maggie will eye her sister with mixture of awe and envy thinking that Dee holds her life in her hand’s palms, from this Mama emphasizes that she views her as a role model person who has taken charge of her destiny as compared to the conservative nature of Maggie and herself. Therefore it’s evident that Dee is a different person rather bad (Walker, 455).
In addition to that when Mama Day dreams and relates her to her Johnny Carson’s television fantasy show which she wonders whether her beautiful, educated and fully figured will want her due to her over weight, dark skin and glistering hair will want her when she arrives. By equating Dees values to Jonny’s show implies that she seeks Dee’s approval and acknowledgment indicating that she also wishes she would have Dee’s values as well and this proves that Dee is a not a bad person to Mama.
Further more while waiting for Dee to arrive Mama has expectations that Dee will hate their house as she hated the first one and that she might burn it with Maggie as well but when Dee arrives with her boyfriend and started taking family photos in front of their house we find that Mama’s expectations were wrong about Dee hence she might as well be wrong about her initial belief about her hence another evidence that Dee is not a bad person to Mama.
In addition to that Mama was sitting facing her back towards their house which she expects Dee to hate it and even tear it down as the first one and by doing this it can be argued that she might as well be trying to take her daughter cues and perhaps envies and watches her in awe as well hence the greater looming of Dee in Mama’s mind signifies that Dee might as well be a good person for Mama( Walker and Christian 45).
Finally when Dee started complementing about the traditional ware in the house and even claims she wants to take them with her because its trendy means that even after going to college and getting educated she finally learns to appreciate her culture and heritage meaning that she might have searched a identity for herself and finally cautiously decided on coming back to her roots with a different name and values. From this point one can argue that Dee is therefore not as uncultured as initially seen thus she can be described not as a traitor but a conscious person who seeks the best for herself before accepting oppressive values and traditions of the society.