Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Everyday Use

Leader: Ylenia
Recorder: Olivia
Analyst: Johanna
Comparer: Savannah


1. The internal and external conflict in this story is very vague, do you think this is done on purpose, or are the conflicts tied together in some way?

2. The character Dee has her own opinions on her heritage. Do you think this gives her the idea that she is superior to the others and if so why?

3. Why do you think Maggie and her mother let Dee boss them around and talk bad about them, without feeling the need to make her feel more gracious until the end?

4. Do you think that the relationship between Dee and Maggie shows more hatred than normal siblings?


In "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the author carefully applies dialogue to demonstrate a constrast between Dee and her family. As the story commences, the narrator, Mama, is preparing for her daughter, Dee, to arrive for a visit. Dee, an educated woman, is linguistically different from the rest of her family. The contrast between Dee and Maggie's dialect is very evident when Maggie says, "I can 'member Grandma Dee without the quilts." Additionally, Mama illustrates her incorrect grammar when she states, "God know I been saving 'em for long enough with nobody using 'em." Moreover, while Maggie and Mama speak improperly, Dee demonstrates sophistication in her speech when she declares, "Maggie's brain is like an elephant's," due to her use of a metaphor. To conclude, Alice Walker applies dialogue to demonstrate a contrast between Dee and her family in "Everday Use."

Comparing this story to another:

"Everday Use" really reminded us of the film New York Minute starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Like Dee and Maggie, Mary-Kate and Ashley's characters differ in many ways. While Dee is much more educated than Maggie, Ashley's character is much more organized and determined to further her education while Mary-Kate's character is not focused on academics in the least.


  1. olivia:
    1. i think a lots going on with the moms head because she know her daughter is unappreciative and she doesn't want to lose her so she keeps it all inside
    2. yes she thinks she's better then the whole family and since her mom and sister don't teach her to be grateful she goes through life
    thinking she can act that way and is better then everyone

    analyst: this story is EXTREMELY descriptive when it comes to Dee and her behavior
    3. because the mom doesn't have a husband or anything and only has two daughters so she wants to keep that relationship

  2. 1. I think the Author purposefully made both conflicts vague so that they bled into each other and seeped from internal to external and from external to internal.
    2. i think that Dee has her own opinions that have been twisted by others into what they want it to be. While the mother has her opinions that are not as twisted and mangled because she has known them before they had the chance to be. Does that make sense?
    3. I think they realize that she has her ways and possibly that she wasnt like this before.

  3. Ylenia:

    1. I think the author purposefully writes in a vague manner; however, the conflicts are connected because Dee causes the mother to question herself and her heritage, causing external conflict, and due to Dee's criticism of towards her mother, she causes her mother to qeustion herself as well.

    2. I think that Dee feels superior towards her family because she believes that she truly understands her heritage whilst in her opinion, her family does not.

    3. As the story begins, I think that Dee's family allows Dee to believe that she truly is superior due to her attitude. However, at the end of the story, when her mother gives the blankets to her other daughter, her mother no longer allows Dee to believe so as she believes that her other daughter deserves the blankets more than Dee.

  4. Johanna-

    1. I think that the inner and outer conflicts are related.. They both involve the female culture of the Johnson family (quilts, butter churn, etc.) The external conflict is b/t Mrs. Johnson and Dee about who receives the heirlooms.

    2. Dee is what one would deem as the opposite of the "prodigal daughter". She's the typical young woman who attains a higher level of education and culture than the rest of her family and, instead of being thankful, rubs it in.
    And since she has a new status somewhat and higher thoughts of herself, Dee revives her former self...e.g. changing names. However, here is when we see a selfish, superficial, arrogant, and flippant girl. She seems over-educated for her capacity of thought and probably too unworthy of the good family that raised her.In not so many words, Dee is a woman who overrates herself by underrating others.
    Though Dee certainly interprets the mother and Maggie as not thinking as much about their heritage as she does, they think about it, but in a different way.

    3. Mrs. Johnson knows Maggie, unlike Dee, will honor the culture and heritage by using it, or continuing it the way it was originally intended. Dee is too mobile, too outspoken, too fickle, and too possessive of material objects to be a legitimate "matriarch" of the family.

  5. olivia:
    1. I think a lot's going on inside the moms head because she knows her daughter is unappreciative and she doesn't want to lose her, so she keeps it all inside.
    2. Yes!She thinks she's better then the whole family, and since her mom and sister don't teach her to be grateful she goes through life
    thinking she can act that way, and is better then everyone.
    3. Because the mom doesn't have a husband or anything and only has two daughters, she wants to keep that relationship and not tell her what to do to mess it up

    Analyst: This story is EXTREMELY descriptive when it comes to Dee and her behavior.

  6. olivia-
    4. i think that this hate is a different type of hate then other siblings instead of it being like you stole my lipgloss its like personal like akward because its shes embarasssed and really personally doesnt like her or want to be part of her life

  7. johanna:

    4. i wouldnt say that their relationship resembles hatred. just as mrs. johnson feels very disconnected from and uncomfortable around dee, she clearly points out both sides of dee. she likes to think of dee as the one who has accomplished many things, as well as pointing out the faults and condescending ways of dee. Mrs. Johnson is really distrustful of Dee, and is DEFINITELY more sympathetic towards Maggie. (e.g. the giving of the quilts to Maggie over Dee). Another thing that really doesnt help Maggie and Dee's relationship is Dee's attitude towards her family. This attitude transitioning from one of shame to one of fake admiration. Since Dee was once embarassed about her home roots, she took things in her hands and embraces what she believes is her "heritage". Its all backwards...just disconnected and out of reach from her family.

    Also, since Dee is clearly noted as the more successful child with many respectable attributes, views on Maggie by others differ. This feeling that she is not equal of her sister creates the unrest that lies between the two sisters.

  8. olivia-
    comparer- this story reminds me of "meet the browns" the movie because he leaves his family and is so wealthy then comes back to his poor family and doesnt feel like he belongs

  9. johanna:

    analysis of "Every Day Use"

    The story is about a family consisting of two sisters and a mother. The family is African and not too wealthy. The mother has worked hard all her life to provide for her daughters. It seems evident that Dee has not always had positive feelings about where she came from. She wanted to be out of the empovrished environment. Dee was smart, and she got a good education, followed by college which led her on her way to a different social class. It's basically an identity crisis/revolution...

    To contrast with her fiery sister, Maggie is shy and introverted. She is the sister that is an adult but still lives with her mother. Maggie is intimidated by Dee. She almost fears her because of her success. She feels like her mother may love Dee more because of her accomplishments.

    Later on, Dee comes to visit her mother and Maggie. She brings a man with her and a new found excitement about everything old and the poor look and ambiance. It has become a "tradition" somewhat to flaunt ones heritage, as she takes pictures of her mother and sister in their poor abode. She talks about the benches that were handmade. And just randomly, she remembers her grandmother's quilts. She tells her mom that she wants them, but not the ones with any machine stitching. As this unfolds, Maggie expects that her mother would hand the quilt over to Dee, when she truly hoped it would be hers. And as it is for every mother, deciding between two daughters can always be so hard. At first, the mother decides that Maggie should have them. Dee objects by telling her mom that Maggie will only use them for ordinary use. And as if Dee's plan is better! She just wants to display them. Their mother's judgement takes over the hard choice her heart has to make, and gives the quilts to Maggie.

  10. Ylenia:

    4. I think that their relationship shows much more rivalry and hatred than normal siblings. They clearly have spent years disliking each other. I think that Maggie has always felt as if she is lesser than her sister. Also, I think she feels like she has always been in her sister's shadow. I don't think that Dee was ever very kind to her either.

  11. Savannah:
    4. I think that the two sisters are always trying to compete with eachother because in Maggie's Eyes Dee is the perfect older sister, and Dee thinks that Maggie is the perfect younger child that always gets her way. yes, There is a little emnity but not really any more than the average pair of sisters. Dee is kind of mean though.