Saturday, August 17, 2019

Character Analysis: “Everyday Use” Essay

The mother in this story has lived a hard, long life, doing the job of a man, never complaining, just doing the things to survive. Then we have her daughter, Dee, who I picture as never having broken a sweat in her life. As a child she hated her house, her living, her culture. When the fire had burnt down the old house, she just sat there in amazement under an old gum tree, as if she wanted to dance in the ashes. She did all this while her mother was carrying Maggie, with arms burnt so bad they were sticking to her, and whose hair was singed and smoking with the foul stench of burning flesh. Why then, if her heritage means so much to her, didn’t she lift a finger to save any of the house or items in it? Instead she sat under a tree admiring the disaster that was taking place. Like the house, her family was of little importance to her. She was ashamed of their lack of knowledge and seemed very much bothered by the poverty in which she lived. In her mind, to be important was to be worldly. To have riches and â€Å"style† were what mattered, not her family. It’s ironic how when she was younger she could not wait to get out of her lifestyle, but now she claims her culture is important to her. She even goes through the extent of changing her name since in her mind, â€Å"Dee† was the name given to her by her oppressors when in reality it was the name passed down by her own family. Dee changes her name to Wangero Lewaninka Kemanjo, which supposedly goes back to her African roots. The mother passively accepts the change with no argument. She doesn’t even say a word when Dee takes the churn top off the butter churner that has milk in it that has already clabbered, and claims it as her own. Dee doesn’t even stop to think that it’s still in use, just that she wants it and that’s that. The mother’s slowly being nudged and pushed; like the cow she doesn’t mind! Then Dee demands that she be able to take the two quilts that were made by her grandma. When the mother claims that the quilts were promised to her sister Maggie, Dee gets furious, stating that Maggie can’t appreciate them. She’ll ruin them by using them everyday. Dee is trying to gain a culture that she believes comes from objects like the churner and the quilts. But her idea of culture is something to be hung on a wall, put on display. She has no idea that culture comes from knowing and living the culture. To them it is a way of life; to Dee, it is the â€Å"in† thing to do. I feel that the mother finally sees this in Dee and doesn’t respect it. So for the first time in the mother’s life, the cow was milked the wrong way and had begun to kick. She snatches the quilts out of Dee’s hands and throws them into the arms of Maggie. Furiously stomping out of the house, Dee shouts, â€Å"You don’t understand!† â€Å"What?† exclaims her mother. â€Å"Your heritage,† Dee responds. The final words Dee says are, â€Å"It’s really a new day for us. But from the way you and mama still act, you’d never know it.† How is it that she doesn’t even realize a simple statement? She never has and she never will have this culture. Culture is not all art, it’s not something you turn on and off: it’s life.

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