Comparing the Similarities and Differences Between Maggie and Dee in Everyday Use, a Short Story by Alice Walker

The story “Everyday Use” written by Alice Walker, a famous African American author, is a story where the whole meaning of the story is completely dependent on how different these two sisters are. Often time children raised together in the same household, then logic may dictate that these children will most likely have a similar thought process and personality. This is simply not the case however, the biggest thing that Maggie and Dee have in common is their upraising in the same house by a single mother. The two sisters are different in the aspect of looks and personality, These differences in the sisters, despite growing up in the same house, is the most important aspect in establishing the theme of the story, heritage, In the beginning of the story the author immediately starts to proclaim the differences between the two sisters, Maggie and Deer. As the differences mount and pile between to the two sisters, it almost seems impossible to spot some similarities between the two sisters.

Nevertheless, some select but obvious similarities between the two sisters is what allows this stories to work in the way that the author intended, Both the girls make every effort to make their mother proud of them. The sisters are also now to the age where they appreciate and understand their family history and the family roots and how they came to where the family is in this time and place. Overlooking these two similarities it is difficult to unveil any more likeness between Maggie and Dee. It is obvious that each person is separate from the other and think in extremely different ways. The comparison that the author makes of the characters is something that allows the readers to do as they read the story. Constantly throughout the story the narrator, Mama, is comparing the looks, personalities, and lifestyles to one another. The first contrast that surfaces between the two sisters is their looks.

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The narrator describes Maggie as jealous of Dee‘s beauty, and Maggie ashamed of the way she looks At one part in the story, while Maggie and Mama are awaiting a visit from Dee, Mama is explaining how Maggie is antsy and shy while her sister is around, Mama says “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners homely and ashamed . , . eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe”. Mama begins to describe Maggie as not considered attractive, and viewed as awkward and low self-esteemed, “She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle”. After the description of Maggie she describes Dee, as being “, . , lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure”.

The differences in the sisters looks and how they carry themselves plays a big role on what makes them so different in their thoughts. Besides the sisters appearances being different, Maggie and Dee have quite separate and unique personalities. As Dee is first seen in the story she seems to have a quite outgoing and bold personality, always getting what she asked for. Mama says that Maggie see her sister as “, , , held life always in the palm of one hand, that ‘no’ is a word the world never learned to say to her”. While Dee has the outgoing personality, Mama describes Maggie as having a very shy and nervous personality She acquired this personality after a traumatic fire that burned and scarred her skin. Later in the story Dee moved to a city uprooting from her family heritage and coming back to visit the family later with a whole new name, Wanergo. When Mama asked her why she changed her name, from a name that was in the family for generations.

Dee (Wanergo) responded “I couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me”. The move Wanergo made to the city inevitably changed her entire self, While Wanergo was changing throughout the years, Maggie remained at home living with Mama resulting in a larger differences between the two sisters After reading this story the reader can clearly see how large of a difference exist between the two sisters, with very small amounts of similarity. As the differences pile up in the story, from the sisters varying appearances to their personalities, and finally the sisters two very different life styles after growing up, the reader can see that no matter how different two family members might be, somewhere inside them there is a similarity that means the world to them, for the sisters it was remembering their heritage just in two different ways.

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Comparing the Similarities and Differences Between Maggie and Dee in Everyday Use, a Short Story by Alice Walker. (2023, May 11). Retrieved from