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Essay about The Characters of Everyday Use

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The Characters of Everyday Use
“Everyday Use” is a short story written by a 1940’s black writer, Alice Walker. She did a fantastic job illustrating her characters. There are different types of character in her story from round to static. Her use of clear-cut symbolism prompts the reader to be able to take a deeper look into the characters of the story. When reading this story I felt anger for Dee, while for the narrator and Maggie I felt sympathy.
It was easy to feel anger and disrespect for the character Dee. She was described as lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure (444). From the very beginning of the story Dee showed herself as selfish and this trait was shown from her throughout the story. Dee wrote to her family saying, “No matter where we choose to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends” (445). This showed how ungrateful she is of her family. Dee not growing up where she wanted to made her embarrassed of her home and family. Then, once Dee arrived she introduced herself as Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, and her boyfriend as Asalamalakin. She changed her name because she believed her real name was a slave name (446). Not long after she does so she began to ask for things that were in “everyday use”. She started off asking for the churn top they used, and she worked herself up to asking for her grandmother’s quilts that were going to be passed down to Maggie. Once her mother tells her that she will not be getting them, that they are going to Maggie, Dee replied, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!” Then she said, “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use” (448). This showed me she may be educated college wise, but definitely not in...


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... she felt inferior to her sister, Dee. Then when Dee insisted on having the quilts that were already promised to Maggie for when she married, Maggie replied, “She can have them, Mama” (448). When the mother saw what was happening she snatched them from Dee to hand off to Maggie. Once Dee and Asalamalakim left without the quilts, Maggie smiled (449). It was not a frightened smiled for once in her life. She seemed very proud of her mother to stand up for herself and their heritage so that the quilts could be put to everyday use.
In conclusion, Alice Walker did a wonderful job at character use. There was a lot on conflict going on within the family. Their true colors were shown, and what each character believed in. This is why I felt anger and disrespect for Dee and sympathy for Maggie and her mother. In the end I was very proud from the mother and Maggie.


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