Maggie and Dee: Character’s Analysis

Maggie and Dee: Character’s Analysis
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Style of Dee

“Everyday use” is an anthologized short story by author Alice Walker about a not so lucky family that is struggling to make ends meet. The story is all about the life of a mother and her two daughters, Maggie, who lives a traditional life in the rural south, and Dee, an educated, successful daughter who disowns her immediate roots in favor of the flamboyant native African identity. The short story mainly centers around one day when, Dee, comes back after some time away in college and conflict between them over some of the family possessions (Walker & Barbara, 1994, p. 129).

When she arrives, it becomes evident that their differences have grown deeper. She has changed her name, embraced the ideas of the Black Power movement and criticizes her immediate family for the manner in which they still live. The short story’s culminating point is when their mother (Mrs. Johnson) declines to bestow Dee with some old quilts simply because they were already supposed to be the wedding presents for her sister, Maggie. The quilts from the central image of the short story in addition to symbolizing the concept of heritage (Walker & Barbara, 1994, p.130).

By refusing to give the quilts to Dee, Mrs. Johnson resolves that Maggie’s approach to heritage is better than Dee’s impersonal idea of heritage. Dee is thus portrayed in the short story, ”Everday Use”, as a disagreeable character in view of the fact that she is arrogant, ungrateful and selfish. Dee is therefore what an individual would consider as the opposite of a prodigal daughter as she is portrayed as a normal young woman who attains higher education level and culture as compared to the rest of the family (Walker & Barbara, 1994, p. 149).

The Main Struggle

The struggle in the short story reveals the characters’ contrasting ideas as regards their heritage and identity. The unpretentious Maggie, with her modest way of life, is a caricature of a different kind. Nonetheless, even though she is short of most of the advantages Dee has, she is able to preserve family traditions as well as appreciate the meanings of all the things her grandma Dee had left behind. (Walker & Barbara, 1994, p.129).

Alternatively, although Dee is portrayed in a negative way throughout the story, the author based the story of both the sisters on various aspects of her personal characters. Just as Maggie, Alice Walker went through an injury during the early days that left her partly disfigured as well as very insecure. However, just like Dee, she rose from poverty, attained good education, explored her tribal ancestry, as well as played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, Walker resembles a levelheaded mother who transforms her misfortunes into a story, and who also reveals Maggie’s hidden value while casting a sarcastic gaze on the attractive Dee (Walker & Barbara, 1994, p. 105).


In conclusion, the short story,” Everday Use” by Alice Walker offers us an insightful impression of how or the way individuals struggle with their own heritage, as well as a captivating example of how far some individuals can go as far as shunning their heritages. The story, for instance, highlights that despite the lesson of what heritage really mean, Dee continued to view the world through her own frame that she had chosen.

Work Cited

Walker, Alice & Christian Barbara. Everyday Use, Rutgers University Press, 1994, pp 105-150.