The story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker revolves around three principal characters, Dee, Maggie, and their mother. However, Dee and Maggie have contrasting personalities, but their mother treats them all the same just as how any mother would have done (Walker, 2004). Also, their mother accepts them despite that the girls live different lifestyles. Maggie has burned, and they have humbled her and also limited her intelligence. Maggie agrees with that, and even the mother admits the fact but has never pushed her to want more thus not faulting her for the burns. Contrastingly, Dee has more intelligence and beauty compared to Maggie and has grown to a more commanding woman.
However, the mother bonds differently with her two daughters. The mother and Maggie have a closer relationship which helps strengthen their mother-daughter bond. Naturally, Maggie has a dependent nature thus defining the relationship that she has with her mother. One of the outstanding traits is that she has accepted the simple lifestyle that her mother is living without making any conclusions about her. Maggie stays back with their mother to provide the necessary companionship, love, care, and help that the older woman requires (Walker, 2004). The relationship that exists between the two creates mutual loyalty that even Dee could not understand.
Dee once complained that Maggie’s lack of intelligence would make her put the quilts that they were sewing into everyday use. The mother feels offended by Dee’s sentiments and stands up for Maggie and accuse Dee of her selfishness and lack of appreciation of their ways. The difference in personality between the two girls has made Dee hate Maggie. However, despite all the hatred, the mother still loves Dee. Since the house burnt, the mother has been considering Dee to be an outsider. Dee has always hated the house since their previous house burnt.
One of the elements that have caused a separation between Dee and her mother is Dee’s education. Since Dee considers herself to be the literate one in the family and looks down on her illiterate mother, the two have not bonded adequately enough like Maggie and the mother. According to Walker (2004), Maggie’s and their mom’s choice of life and ignorance makes it hard for Dee to hide her disdain barely. Dee also went back to visit the two with the intention of taking the quilts which had been kept for generations by the family. The quilts have become fashionable in Dee’s world, and she feels that she should be the one given them. However, after finding out that the quilts were no longer vogue, Dee discards them. Dee later drives off, and it is a clear indication that Maggie benefits from her bond with her mother more than Dee does.
Symbolism is one of the literary devices that most authors use to improve creativity in their works. In the story “Everyday use,” quilts have been used as a symbol. Quilts in the story have been used to symbolize the family heritage of Mama which has been passed through several generations. The quilts were handcrafted by the narrator, her sister, and her mother (Walker, 2004). The material used to make the quilts comprised of clothing that were worn by several family members if different generations. However, the significance of the quilts does not end with the family heritage.
Quilts also symbolize communal bonding and creativity by the author. The sewing of the quilts was a symbol of creativity by the people who handcrafted them. One of the facts that are evident in the story is that Johnson’s family was not financially well-off (Walker, 2004). The family could, therefore, not afford to go out to luxury places where they could get adequate fancy materials for their quilting project. However, the family was able to create an outstanding masterpiece from the available materials. The quilts, therefore, does represent not only the family heritage but also the level of creativity of women in society.
Also, towards the ends, the quilts end up to be more significant than it had earlier been. The pieces from the clothing formed a traditional significance of the struggles that African Americans underwent during slavery. The general importance explains why Dee wanted the quilts for herself. The quilts also represented bonds between family members (Walker, 2004). For example, Maggie learned how to quilt from her mother. That alone signifies that the two were close. However, for Dee, she was not interested in learning how to properly quilt thus leading to a deteriorated relationship between her, her mother, and her sister.
In conclusion, the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker mainly rotates around the lives of Dee, Maggie, and their mother. However, Dee and Maggie have contrasting personalities, but their mother treats them all the same just as how any mother would have done. The different lifestyle and personality explain the different levels of their relationships. Maggie is firmly bonded with their mother since she spends more of her time with her mother. However, Dee lives a different lifestyle that does not please her mother, and that also explains why the two are not strongly related.
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