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"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker
Transcript of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker
"[Dee] has held life always in the palm of one hand, that 'no' is a word the world will never learned to say to her" "Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe" "Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way Maggie walks...chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle" "Sometimes Maggie reads to me. She stumbles along good naturedly but can't see well. She knows she is not bright. Like goods and money, quickness passes her by. "Maggie attempts to make a dash for the house, in her shuffling way, but I stay her with my hand...she stops and tries to dig a well in the sand with her toe."
"I feel her trembling there and when I look up I see the perspiration falling off her chin"
"Maggie's hand is as limp as a fish, and probably as cold, despite the sweat, and she keeps trying to pull it back...[Asalamalakim] soon gives up on Maggie." "'Aunt Dee's first husband whittles the dash,' said Maggie so low you almost couldn't hear her. 'His name was Henry, but they called him Stash." "Maggie's brain is like an Elephant's" "'Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!' she said. 'She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.'" "'She can have them, Mama,' she said, like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her. "I can 'member Grandma Dee without the quilts." "Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure." "She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks' habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant under her voice" "She washed us in a river of make believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge that we didn't necessarily need to know. Presses us to her with...the way that she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed to understand about it." "Dee wanted nice things...She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts." "She wrote to me once that no matter where we 'choose' to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends." "'Wasuzo Teano!' she says, coming on in that gliding way the dress makes her moves." "'No, Mama', she says. 'Not Dee, Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!'"
"'What happened to Dee?', I wanted to know."
"'She's dead,' Wangero said. 'I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me.'"
"Everything delighted her. Even the fact that we still used the benches her daddy made for the table when we couldn't afford to buy chairs." "'I can use the chute top as a centerpiece for the alcove table,' she said, sliding a plate over the chute, 'and I'll think of something artistic to do with the dasher.'" "'Can I have these old quilts?'....'These are all pieces of dresses Grandma used to wear. She did all this stitching by hand. Imagine!' She held quilts securely in her arms, stroking them....But they're priceless!" "'You don't understand'...'Your heritage,' she said, And then she turned to Maggie, kissed her, and said, 'You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it.'" Focus Statement:
In "Everyday Use", by Alice Walker", Walker contrasts the two sisters, the superficial young woman and her humble sister, and in doing so, demonstrates how the shallow sister focuses on the superficial aspects of her culture, overlooking the true meaning of her family legacy and how she can be true to her African American roots by simply focusing on her familial values. by Alice Walker