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Alice Walker "everyday Use"

By:   •  October 2, 2014  •  Essay  •  1,843 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,505 Views

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Coming Home

A home is a place where one's domestic affections are centered; there is history with a family in every detail inside and out of a home. In "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the characters are at a battle within themselves trying to find a path back to their true home. In the opening of the short story, the mother has a daydream about a home that she considered to be perfect, but little does she realize, her home is the place of her family, which is the most precious gift of all. Her two daughters, Dee and Maggie, have different views on what a home is supposed to be, and it causes confrontations throughout the story. In the story, the women have developed a perspective of their home and have internal conflicts with how they portray their home; their differences are then brought together by the realization of what their home truly means to them.

The mother, in reality, is not the typical up-keep mother who always has her hair and make-up done. Instead, she is a hard working grungy woman who takes over the man's role of her household. She wishes she could be the perfect mother that she thinks her daughter, Dee, wants her to be. Conflicts arise throughout the story with the mother's view of perfection, meaning a freedom from fault or defect. In the opening of the short story, the mother portrays a very descriptive scene of a home in her daydream. As she is sitting on the front porch, she describes her wavy yard as an "extended living room." In an everyday living room, many families get together and have "family bonding time;" this brings families closer together at the end of the day. This is very significant in the portrayal of her ideas of a perfect home. The mother, at the beginning, is trying to bring Dee back to feeling as if she were a part of her family in her home. The mother's idea of a perfect home with an extended living room is meaningful because she wants her family to be close enough that regardless of where they are, they can still have the essence of being a close knit family. When the mother refers to the swept hard clay, she wants Dee to have a vision of her home that she can relate to, suggesting that the home is not good enough for Dee. She also wants Dee to be proud of her, with all of her hard work that she has put into raising her and giving her what she could, so that she will want to come back to her true home. The mother stated out of her day-dream, "I am the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake. My hair glistens in the hot bright lights." The mother's views on how Dee wants her to be helped to understand how different she is from what Dee wants her to be. Before she gave details of how Dee wanted her to be, she tells the reader how she truly is, "In real life I am a large, big boned woman with rough, man-working hands. . . .One winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledge hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall," which is the complete opposite of Dee's desires. The mother also stated,"She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts.," giving the impression that the underlying cause of the mother's conflicts is circled around her feeling as if she was not equipped enough for Dee's views on how her mother should be.

Dee is the oldest daughter of the family, and as a child, she always wanted a more extravagant lifestyle. "She wrote me once that no matter where we "choose" to live, she will manage to come see us," said the mother. Dee's use of the word manage allows the reader to understand her thoughts of the home. There is a difference between "manage" and "will." If Dee said "will," she would have been planning to come back more often, but her using the word, manage, gives the statement a whole new meaning. Dee "managing" to come back can mean that coming back home could be stressful work for her, and that she might not take the time to travel back any time soon. Dee also showed her disapproval of her home by speaking of bigger and better things to her sister—"She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks' habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice." Dee is a very well presented girl who thrives at finding new ideas to "fit in with society." She does not come home very often because she feels embarrassed about the way she grew up. As she watched her first home go up in flames, she had no desire to stop it because she did not like the home in the first place.—". . . a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the brick chimney. . . She had hated the house that much." The mother indicated Dee's views in the quote. Dee wished of an intelligent sister who would follow in her footsteps in becoming a woman of intelligence and beauty. Dee stated, "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." Her expectations never came true, leaving her with a disgust of who she was. As soon as she could, she left the home and ventured off into her new "perfect" world. She decided to change her name to an African name, Wangero, which could be a statement she was trying to make; her statement could mean that changing her name was just like changing her original home environment. Dee's conflict throughout her life was that she didn't understand the value of her roots. As she grew up, she was too focused on getting away from her lifestyle she had that she missed the love and affection given inside the home.

Maggie is the youngest daughter who struggles with the loss of her first home. Throughout Maggie's life, she had been the one to be very quiet and observant. She is not very intelligent when


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