An Analysis of Dee in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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In Alice Walker’s short story,” she discuss the life of an African American family of a mother and her two daughters. The mother has a tremendous amount of love for both of her daughters, but the two are different individuals in terms of their personality. Maggie, the younger of the two, was much like her mother. Her and the mother both thought of themselves to be shy, not well spoken, and unattractive. But Dee, the oldest daughter, turned out to be totally opposite. She was very outgoing, well spoken, and very much attractive. Dee’s difference in her personality compared to Maggie and her mother can be the leading effect in her having different opinions of the family’s heritage.

A family’s heritage can be a very important part in its tradition. The word heritage means; something that is passed down from preceding generations. This details that heritage has a lot to do with customs, property, reputation, and things of this sort. In Alice Walker’s short story, the story begins off by mentioning a possession that can be obtained from inheritance. The mother (or protagonist) describes the yard as being comfortable than most people know. She says, “It is like an extended living room.” (351)

Another prized possession of the family was the first house that they lived in. Apparently they felt comfortable living there, because when it was burned in a fire they moved to another one that was almost identical. Contrary to her mother and Maggie, the oldest daughter Dee, hated the house and the environment they lived in. The mother mentions in the story how Dee acted like she wanted to do a dance around the house while it was on fire. The mother also was sure that Dee would like the new house when she sees it as she states, “No doubt when Dee sees it she will want to tear it down.” (353) Since Dee never brought any friends around the house one would wonder if she ever had any or she was just that ashamed of her family’s living.

Dee became controversial in a lot of issues regarding her family’s life. She seemed to have wanted a change in their customs and morals. While her mother and Maggie waited her return home from school in Augusta, Dee had gone through a certain transformation. Dee now goes by the name, “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” which maybe of African decent. Her mother asks, “What happened to ‘Dee’, and she says, “She’s dead.” (354) Dee says she will no longer go by the name of people who oppressed her. Another major issue in this story is the discussion about the quilts. They were also a prized possession of the family. These quilts were something that was passed down through generations. They were stitched and made from the clothing of Grandma Dee, Big Dee, and even the mother.

When Dee saw the quilts she wanted to take them with her very badly, but the mother wasn’t sure if she should let her have them. The mother remembered that she had once tried to give them to Dee but she wasn’t interested then. She had also made a promise that she would give them to Maggie. Dee became frustrated with the idea of giving the quilts to Maggie, because she said, “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to.” (356) The mother felt the sudden feeling to stand in her promise to Maggie and not give the quilts to Dee, as she took them from her placed them on Maggie’s lap. Dee was upset at the decision of her mother and tells her, “You just don’t understand,” when it comes to the family’s heritage. (357) Dee ends by saying, “It’s really a new day for us, [but] from the way you and Mama still live you’d never know it.” (357)

In concluding, there are a couple of issues to show that Dee is different from here mother and Maggie. Dee hated her surroundings growing up and she was very feminine in contrast to them. Dee also made a major transformation when she left for school, because on her arrival back home she came back a new person with a new name. A change in a name can be symbolic to a change in reputation or character. Usually characteristics come with a name. For instance, my family is very athletic, so when someone mentions the name, ‘Blackmon’ one may look for athletic characteristics. Dee thinks that her mother and Maggie are too old-fashioned about their heritage. What it all boils down to is her mother and Maggie are just trailing the lifestyle of the elderly that came before them, and that is all they know and act on.

Cite this paper

An Analysis of Dee in Everyday Use by Alice Walker. (2023, May 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/an-analysis-of-dee-in-everyday-use-by-alice-walker/

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