“Everyday Use”


This short story, “Everyday Use,” written by Alice Walker, is about family values, heritage, family pride, and personal change. There are three vital characters that contribute to significant positions in this story; these characters are Mama, Dee, and last but not least, Maggie. Maggie, being the youngest daughter, she is also the least recognizable in the story. Maggie is especially envious, and to some extent fearful of her older sister Dee. In the conclusion, Maggie realizes that she does not have to be frightened to any further extent. At last, Mama sees that she can stand up to Dee and place Maggie where she belongs in her life.


Mama knows that Maggie gets apprehensive and somewhat uneasy when Dee happens to visit. “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes,” Mama is thinking. Maggie believes that Dee “has held life always in the palm of one hand.” Dee has perpetually taken Mama’s concentration and time away from Maggie, and Maggie has not had life incredibly effortless due to this. Dee has forever gotten precisely what she wanted, and Mama never told her that she could not have something. Whether it was a dress that she wanted, that Mama had to make from old quilts, she made sure that she got it. After the previous house burned, ten to twelve years ago, it left Maggie exceptionally wounded. She is left feeling unappealing and embarrassed due to the burn scars along the length of her arms and legs. Maggie realizes that she is not incredibly intelligent, and she cannot see clearly to read, although she attempts this task extraordinarily hard. She envies the reality that her sister has in no way run into a dilemma of this degree. “‘no’ is a word the world never learned to say to her,” speaking of Dee. These are feelings that she is required to deal with on every instance that Dee comes to visit.


As Maggie and Mama wait for Dee to arrive, they both speculate what she will think of the house that they still live in, and how nothing has changed since she has went away to college. Maggie makes her way into the house to alter her appearance, and returns requesting Mama’s opinion of how she looks. She is apprehensive about what Dee will think and say about how she appears and the way that she is dressed. Maggie knows that Dee is not incredibly favorable of her. This is something that Maggie has been concerned about most of her existence. She does not have to be uneasy about these things while Dee is away at school, because nobody judges her the way that her sister does. When Dee at long last arrives, Maggie attempts to make a dash for the house. She would prefer to avoid her sister if at all possible. Mama stops her though; this is something that Maggie is going to have to cope with.


As they are sitting down for dinner, Dee observes the churn top. “This top is what I need,” she said. Maggie knows all too well that her sister does not appreciate their heritage the way that her and Mama do. Following dinner, Dee manages her way to the trunk at the foot of Mama’s bed. She recovers two quilts that Mama has promised to give to Maggie when she marries John Thomas. Maggie hangs back in the kitchen over the dishpan, listening to what Mama and Dee are conversing about. She does not want her sister to have the quilts, although she knows that Dee always gets what Dee wants. Maggie can hear Mama telling Dee that she promised to give the quilts to Maggie. Dee is not satisfied, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts.” “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.” Maggie finally walks into the bedroom ready to forfeit the quilts, as she had always given into Dee’s demands. “I can remember Aunt Dee without the quilts,” Maggie says. This instance though, Mama, for the first time in her life, had had her fill of Dee’s demands. When Mama tells Dee that she can take other quilts, and that these quilts are for Maggie, Dee gets very upset, and turns to walk