Essay about Misfortunes of Dreams in Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

Decent Essays

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This famous excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech seems to echo the very sentiment of the narrator, whom we find out later is “Mama” and Mrs. Johnson, in the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. She alludes to her eldest daughter Dee and says “sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort. Out of a dark and soft-seated limousine I am ushered into a bright room filled with many people. There I meet a smiling, gray, sporty man like Johnny Carson who shakes my hand and tells me …show more content…

But she does refer to Dee’s proclivity to be materialistic: “Dee wants nice thing …. At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was” (61). Mama’s dramatic description of herself leaves nothing to the imagination: “In real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands. In winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls during the day. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man. My fat keeps me hot in zero weather” (60). This description does not bold well for Mama capturing “her role” in her dream.
The disparity of the outward imageries by Mama is a small manifestation of her cloaked animosity and resentment as compared to her hyperbolic soliloquies. Even in her dreams she says Dee wants her to be “a hundred pounds lighter, [her] skin like an uncooked barley pancake; [her] hair [glistening] in the hot bright lights” (60). Mama refers to Dee being embarrassed and ashamed of her mother’s appearance. Mama indicates that she can never be what Dee wants her to be in stating “Who ever knew a Johnson with a quick tongue” (60); rhetoric corroborated by Mama’s admission that she “never had an education [herself]. After second grade the school was closed down” (61). However, Mama shunned Dee’s quick tongue, acquired from her education; Mama recalls “[Dee] used to read to [them] without

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