Life as a Whole - Short story Essay Example

“Everyday Use” symbolizes the importance of quilts and the value put upon them by a mother and her two children - Life as a Whole introduction. “I try to teach my heart not to want things it can’t have” once said Alice Walker. In many cases I relate this quote to the character Maggie in the short story “Everyday Use. ” Maggie is shy and bashful because of her scars. She feels that her older sister Dee had had it made while they were coming up. Dee had gotten the chance to go to college while Maggie had stayed home with her mom. Maggie became more in touch and aware of her ancestral roots because she had stayed home with her mom.

One important object often associated with “Everyday Use” is the quilts. Dee felt like she should have the quilt because to her she had deserved them more than Maggie did. She felt like she had understood the importance of the quilts and she would put them to proper use. Ironically enough, she said that Maggie did not understand the importance of the quilts and would have probably used them for everyday use until they turned into rags. I personally feel that Maggie fully understood that the quilts had a value worth so much more than everyday use. Aside from Dee and Maggie, there was the mother.

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The only understanding of heritage she had was the one she inherited. Maggie, Dee and their mother symbolized three different aspects of African American culture. This short story is stationed in the rural south during the 1960’s. During this time some people began to change their values and ways of life. In the short story, Dee Johnson was a beautiful young lady. She had gone to college to break away from her southern roots which she despised. She had set out to be educated, built-up and modernized. Dee promised her mother that she would always visit, but never bring friends.

That sentence alone displays her attitude towards her mother’s home and way of life. After Dee’s arrival to Mama Johnson’s house in which she despise so much she displays her embodiment towards finding a unifying identity by uttering the words Wa-su-zo-Tean-o, meaning “good morning” or “I hope you slept well. ” Even though Dee barely understood her African roots, she perhaps felt like speaking an African language as well as changing her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo had made her more in tuned with the African culture. Alice walker made Maggie this interesting, unique character different from the average person.

Maggie is physically and mentally scarred. Physically because the fire that had took place at the old house and mentally because of the opportunities that were given to her sister. Her older sister Dee was beautiful and confident and she had gotten to go to college and live life. Maggie is highly self-conscious. In “Everyday Use”, her mother compared the way she walked to that of a lame dog that had been run over by a car. Ever since the fire, Maggie had begun to walk with her chin on chest, eyes on the ground and feet in a shuffle. She had communication apprehension when it came to pretty much talking to anyone.

Maggie had to accept the country life and endured a much more difficult youth than Dee. Despite her personality, Maggie still lived a justly satisfied and concrete life. She goes on sharing everyday chores between her and her mother. In the end, Maggie is just a modest girl living a submissive life. Mama Johnson was brought up in a much more struggling time than both Dee and Maggie. After second grade mama Johnson was stripped of an education, therefore never becoming educated. Mama could do other things such as kill hogs and clean them as merciless as a man. Although, mama had it tough she still was loving and kind.

She had a profound, ironic personality and although she did not have it easy, she sought those hard times to be the things that made her the strong woman that she had become. All three shared DNA and at a certain point shared a way of living but had nothing in common with each other. They had three different perspectives on life. Mama Johnson was content with her life and although she had not accomplished much, she was still proud of who she was. Her life is not stirring, however she does make the best of it. Dee had always saw things differently. She had always wanted the best for herself.

So when it came down to getting the quilts, she saw that as an easy win because she was used to getting anything that she wanted. Maggie gives up the quilt as would have anyone else who was not used to getting anything. Maggie understood that her life might always reflect not being special and she accepted life for what it was because that was the way she knew God to have worked. These three women have three different ideas attached to history. Mama identifies history with memories, Dee identifies history with appearance, and Maggie feels that her history is more personal.

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