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Everyday Use by Alice Walker
Transcript of Everyday Use by Alice Walker
Mother dreams of a perfect life where Dee is not ashamed of her family.
Mother points out the differences between her two daughters. Dee is confident, and pretty, and she has her own style. Maggie is shy and ashamed of her burn marks.
Mother remembers when their first house burned down.
Mother describes how going to school changed Dee.
Dee arrives with a man (Asalamalakim). Mother has difficulty pronouncing the names but tries to please her daughter by learning the pronunciation.
Dee takes pictures of her mother and sister and their new house with her Polaroid camera
Dee says her new name is Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. She does not want to be named after the people who "oppress her".
After dinner, Dee takes the churn top and the dasher
Dee wants to take two quilts that Mother promised to Maggie
Dee argues that Maggie wouldn’t know how to use them properly
Maggie says Dee can have the quilts
Mother gives the quilts to Maggie and tells Dee to take one or two of the other quilts
Dee leaves claiming that they don’t understand their heritage
Maggie and Mother sit on the porch until it’s time to go to bed. They are happy. Maggie is more relaxed. Literary Elements Protagonist: Maggie and Dee's mother
Antagonist: Dee (Wangero)
Mother: round character. Becomes more fair with her daughters.
Maggie: dynamic character. Gains confidence and finally "wins" for a change. Foil character. Contrasts with Dee.
Dee: symbolic character. Forgot about the value of family and heritage. Foil character. Contrasts with Maggie.
Asalamalakim: static character. Only mentioned a few time. Not a big impact on the events in the story.
Point of View: first person
Climax: When Dee reveals her change in name and in herself
Conflict: Maggie vs Dee. Dee always wins. Maggie always gives in to her sister.
Resolution: The mother finally gives Maggie some fairness and what she deserves
Setting: 1950’s-1960’s Symbols Quilt:
-Representation of past generations, struggles, heritage
- Pieces of clothing represent the scrap that was turned into a quilt
-"In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jattell's Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra's uniform that he wore in the Civil War." (1517)
- Started from nothing, finished with a masterpiece
- Representation of harships that ancestors went through to piece things together for future generations
- handmade from pieces of clothing from different people's clothing over several generations. Piece from the Civil War= fighting, struggle, etc Symbols Name-change:
-Did she kill her old self, or simply change?
-She kills her old self when she changes her name
- She tries to change her history and take up an entire
- Claims she is trying to rid herself of oppressors, but
technically she hasn't rid herself of them.
- failed attempt on Wangero's behalf to change the past
- She had Grandma Dee's name and rid herself of it
- Now she wants her quilt Symbols Burn Scars:
- Represent Maggie's insecurity
- They make her feel trapped in the past
- Separates her even more from Dee
-Dee has seemingly perfect life
- more favored than her sister
- Scars = pain that Maggie endured, while Dee just sat and
-Remains unharmed during the fire, while Maggie must live w/ scars of it everyday
- So used to being burned (hurt), that she seemingly hides in a shell - reserved personality
- Maggie getting her way represents change
- The scars will eventually fade Symbols Grandma Dee:
-most likely faced struggles of racism/may have even been a slave
- maker of the quilt that gets passed down from generation
- analogous to the legends that get passed down by generation
-in this case, the legend would be around her
-Woman power and strength during what was a really hard time Theme: Heritage: the importance of remembering who you are and where you came from
-importance of what you stand for
- knowledge of ancestors and any struggled they faced
appreciation for culture and values
- usage of lessons you are taught - applying them to your every-day life
- Using them as guidance in life Theme Consummation:
-Maggie is very respectful towards her mom and Dee. Lets Dee have her way
-Maggie is clearly taken for granted
-Maggie unappreciated and her sister thinks she's foolish
- the time comes for Maggie to shine
- even if it's only for a little while
- Maggie emphasizes how ungrateful Dee is for all that she has
-Dee gives her sister a word of advice and finally tries to get on her level
-Dee is finally told no
-Things are complete
-"When I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet. Just like when I'm in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and shout. I did some.thing I never done before: hugged Maggie to me, then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero's hands and dumped them into Maggie's lap." (1518)
-For the first time, the mother realizes how unfair she has been and that it's time for a change
-"Miss Wangero" - annoyed, implying that she thinks Dee is annoying for wanting to be called something other than her name, thinks that Dee is acting like she's better than everyone else even though she's not Current Events - Same way the mothers pass down the quilts from generation to generation, it represents their values and the way they were raised
-Whereas, this woman puts a gun in her 7 year old son’s school bag and gets arrested and in trouble with the authorities
-Represents the kind of parent she is.
-probably unwell and grew up unstably
- The way your children turn out and the things/lessons you pass onto them represent the kind of parent you are and your beliefs
-He could have been killed, classmates could have been killed.
-in the midst of Newtown Tragedy, this mother was wrong for what she did and this is not a matter to play with or to try and gain attention with Current Event With MLK Jr. Day having been this week, it must be brought to light the usage of the N-Word that so many black youth use to refer to one another
Rappers use it constantly in their songs
People call those around them by that name
People fought for a long time to rid themselves of that harsh past and the term that they were known as.
With ignorance, it has become a part of the vocabulary of so many youth
Much like the quilt, the heritage needs to be spread and passed on. The children need to know their past Theme Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Grandma Dee of Ghana
-Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
-Ghana's best president
- Ghana's Independence was under his presidency Theme: Favoritism:
The mother tries to be equally loving to her daughters
Wants them to have best life possible
Yet she clearly shows favoritism to the elder child. ("Sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort." (1513) - only thinks of having Dee in this dream, what about Maggie?)
Sends only one of them off to school
The younger one is just naturally used to living in the shadow of her sister
Favoritism is is a horrible parenting style
Leads to attention-seeking and feelings of neglection
This barrier is finally broken at the end Theme Identity Crises
-Dee = negatively influenced by the new guy she brings home, Asalamalakim
-Lets him wash away her knowledge of herself and her past
-Realizes how lost she is and tries to restore it with Grandma Dee’s belongings
-The time period influences Dee’s name-change and what she believes in
-Maggie does not live for herself, yet lives accepting the hand-me-downs of her sister
-She does not much of a voice or a say in who she is
-Used to pleasing others, it's herself she needs to focus on
-Finally begins to find herself.
-"But a real smile, not scared" (1518)
-For the first time, she is pleased and not in her sister's shadow. Theme Portrayal of Women
-Grandma Dee: Strong figure. Looked up to and the maker of this legendary quilt that is passed down from generation to Generation
-The mother: Strong figure. Raises her girls to the best of her ability and tries to make it so that their lives are as fulfilling as possible. Clearly loves her daughters, but parenting seems to be lacking. Both with Dee and Maggie
-Dee: Weak figure, but negatively portrayed. Seemingly lost soul who is trying to make something of herself out in the real world, but loses her heritage and who she is in the process. However, she’s headstrong and driven.
-Maggie: Reserved, but also a weak figure because she lives through her pain. She lets it dictate her and she her personality is completely unassertive. Her scars make her insecure and she’s used to being told no. Finally, she gets her way and confidence seems to find its way to her as well