In the life we leave in, one cannot miss to note that life is like two sides of a coin, the modern life and the traditional one. This can be seen in the “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker where she compares the traditional life with the modern one especially when it comes to the African-American educational set up. In her short story she uses Dee’s mother and Maggie to symbolize a tradition life because of their traditional lifestyle. Nevertheless, she also uses Dee to symbolize the modern way of living and this has been shown by Dee’s lifestyle which is modern (White, Par, 3). This tradition and modern life also depicts the difference between the African-American who were treated as slaves with the white generation. It is because of the traditional and modern way of living that the “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker has been written to act as a theme and enlighten us on what it means to grow a traditional set up and what it means in having a life in modern ways. All this is a replicate of two sides of a coin.
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Dee’s mothers and her daughter Maggie posses the traditional values while for Dee, modern values have been instilled in her by modern education. it is because of those reasons, it is difficult for Maggie to be comfortable with her sister Dee or stand before her because of the lifestyle Dee has lived in. it is not about hatred since she does not hate Dee but it is all out how she eyes her sister with a mixture of envy and awe (Walker, Par 2). This has been shown in the “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker where she narrates by saying, “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes… She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that “no” is a word the world never learned to say to her,” (Walker par 2).
When it comes to education, Dee is a lucky girl, all her life she has managed to withstand life full of poverty, managed to get the modern education and resist the African believes of which she is never been comfortable with them. This is shown in the change of her name which was inherited from her aunt and the way she hated how there traditional house looked like.
Maggie has also been used as a symbol in “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker to symbolize the slavery life the African-American underwent through. This symbols have been shown through the burning scars on Maggie which she has down her arms and legs, (Walker, par 2) symbolizing some of the scars African-American possessed when they encountered fire in the hands of slavery.
When it comes to the identity-wise, tradition and modern way of the outer identity of a person has been shown in the “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker whereby, Dee is not happy with the identity of her mother who claims to be “a large, big boned woman with rough, man working hands”, when introducing her mother to a smiling, gray, sporty man whose name is John Carson (Walker, Par 5). Dee believes that, her mother should shun the traditional ways of leaving and look like a modern woman of which they tend to disagree with her mother who believes that, a better life is through hard work and she has to work hard as a woman to embrace the traditional values that she learnt from her ancestors rather than embracing the modern ways. The style of her mothers dressing also bothered her so much. To her, she feels like, the traditional way of dressing was weird and out of style
Apart from the identity and style, Dee tends to embrace the modern ways of naming people. She has never been comfortable with her ancestral name ever since she acquired the modern education. This can be proved when her mother mentions her name, ‘Dee’ and Dee is quick to deny by saying, “No, Mama … “Not ‘Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!” According to Dee, she does not want to be named those names that belong to the dead since they oppress her. This makes her mother to go by her daughter’s wish of the change of names since she has got no choice (Walker, Par 18).
In the other hand, Maggie’s character displays some traditional behaviors by accepting, embracing and feeling proud of what her Grandma Dee left behind before she died. She has got no shame of them but as for Dee, when still in college, she denied everything especially the quilt terming them to be, “old-fashioned, out of style” (Hein and Korsmeyer, Page 59).
The “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker goes on to shows us that, with the modern ways of leaving and modern education, Dee is using the acquired knowledge to disapprove her mother who never had education. Dee is a lady of her own who wants everything she aims to be is. She wants to be recognized to be a person with creativity and new style. This has been shown through the quilts she denied from her grandmother terming them as “old-fashioned, out of style” (Walker, Par, 24). She has come back for them. There mother has tried to prove to her that those quilts belongs to Maggie but she seems to be furious because she has temper terming them to priceless to Maggie claiming that “Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they’d be in rags. Less than that!”.
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