Essay on A Psychological Analysis of Alice Walker's Everyday Use

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A Psychological Analysis of Alice Walker's Everyday Use The human mind is divided into three parts that make up the mind as a whole. These parts are necessary to have a complete mind, just as the members of a family are needed to make up the entire family. The use of components to equal a whole is often exercised in literature. Alice Walker's short story, "Everyday Use," contains the idea of family and of the mind, therefore her work can be evaluated through psychological methods. Through their actions, the characters symbolize the three different parts of the mind: the id, the ego, and the superego. The first type of mind division, the id, "constantly strives to satisfy basic drives...[and] seeks immediate gratification"…show more content…
Maggie's personality is closely connected to the ego section because of her powerful desire to do right and to solve her problems realistically. Mama explains that "after dinner Dee went to the trunk at the foot of [the] bed...Maggie hung back in the kitchen over the dishpan" (Walker 95). As Dee tries to usurp the quilts from her mother, Maggie tries to help her mother by doing the dishes. Maggie tries to act morally while Dee tries to take advantage of her mother. While discussing the rightful owner of the quilts, Maggie said, " 'She can have them, Mama'...like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her" (Walker 97). Instead of fighting over the quilts, Maggie willingly gives them to her sister. Even though Maggie wishes to have them, she does not want to produce conflict in her family. Maggie is accustomed to getting less than her sister and has an unselfish personality. Her actions are parallel to an ego because the ego defines moral actions. Finally, Myers states that "the superego strives for perfection and judges our actions, producing positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of guilt" (380). The superego acts as the mind's conscience. In the story, the narrator, Mama, clearly represents the superego portion of the mind structure because of her guilty conscience and her wishes to be perfect, both mentally and physically.
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