Dee Versus Maggie: A Struggle For Self-Understanding Essay

1448 Words6 Pages
The twenties, a time marred by prohibition and television's implantations, were widely known as a time of struggles such as the Great Depression and the beginning of what later became known as women's rights. However, presumably the greatest struggle was that of ‘colored' people. Because of limited resources, limited speech, and limited economic opportunities many ‘colored' people sought ways to escape ‘everyday' life and the hardships they often faced. One of these ways came by beginning to express themselves more freely. In addition, as a result, the Harlem Renaissance formed. In "Everyday Use", Alice Walker, one of the frontrunners of the Harlem Renaissance, tells the story of an oppressed and under-privileged African American…show more content…
When Dee returns from school with her male companion, she has changed her name to Wangero. This is the first instance of cultural confusion that is delivered to the reader. She claims it is done in an effort to reject the oppression of the taking on of American names by the struggling ‘colored' people. She states "I couldn't bear it any longer being named after the people who oppresses me" (455). However, to Dee's mother, the name is symbolic of family unity. Dee's mother traces the name back to Dee's aunt, Dicie. The name holds a symbolic value to Dee's mother because it belongs to a love one. Walker uses this strategy to show that Dee has little or no understanding of her heritage, and if she took the time to accept her people's way of life, she would have a better understanding. Dee changing her name shows how she tries to mask her true culture with bits and pieces of her knowledge of her ancestors. However, this fails because Dee's heritage does, in fact, encompass the very struggles of her people that she chooses to forget.
During the family dinner, Dee's confusion about the meaning of her heritage also emerges in her attitude toward other household valuables. Dee praises the hand-carved benches that were made when the family could not afford to buy chairs. Though she rejects the family name given to her, she readily values their goods. In Dee's perspective, the benches and the churn are souvenirs or aesthetic objects, and they have no

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