Everyday Use Analytical Essay

973 WordsDec 28, 20104 Pages
Characterization is used to address how ignorant a person can be to his or her heritage in the short story “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker. The author shows the way of living, of a family to display the reader the way heritage is forgotten and, or ignored. In this short story the author uses a mother, and two daughters, Dee and Maggie, to demonstrate how different the thoughts are between a family and how they honor their heritage. Maggie is used in the story to show the reader how heritage is still followed and respected in a family. The narrator, Mama, describes Maggie’s appearance as not a so good looking girl. She is a burned child from an incident the family had: “[T]hat fire that burned the other house to the ground” (Mama). Mama…show more content…
She plays both the father and the mother’s role to her two daughters. The narrator stated, “I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing” (Mama). This informs the reader that there is no man in the house to do this; therefore, the narrator has to do it. Also, Mama is uneducated. Mama said, “After second grade the school was closed down” (Mama). The narrator stated this in order to let the reader know that the last grade completed by her was second grade and to show how low of an education she has. It also informs the reader how heritage is followed, since only one of her daughters is going to school. In the short story, Mama’s relationship with her daughters is shown to be different from one daughter to the other. Mama mostly always favored Dee, and has good hopes for her future: “[W]e raised money, the church and me, to send her to Augusta to school” (Mama). This informed the reader that Mama would put Dee on top, and then Maggie on bottom. Although Mama preferred Dee, she would spend most of her time with Maggie and got along better with her. The narrator always talked about how Dee would make her mother and her sister Maggie’s self esteem go down: “She washes us in a river of make believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge…” (Mama). The reader can understand how superior Dee was to her sister and mother and how she would put them down. Dee on the other hand is described in the short story as a strong and selfish girl.

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