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Everyday Use - The Great Divide Between Wangero and Maggie

Uploaded by Galaghard on Sep 24, 2002

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” If that is the case, then Maggie wins hands down over her older sister, Dee, whom, from what seems the beginning, has been her family’s ultimate representation of the externally cosmopolitan, debased, and contemporarily delusional woman “getting-in-touch-with-her-inner-self-through-learning-about-her-heritage-in-a-white-and-‘americanized’-educational-institution.” And, whereas Maggie is the soft, gentle, and truly “educated” woman of their ancestors as shown through Alice Walker’s quilt motif utilized in her story, “Everyday Use.”

First, consider Dee, also known as “Wangero,” as she likes to call herself because she says she can no longer bear being named (and called) after the people who oppress her (Walker 29). This woman, the very same person that was borne of the same mother as Maggie, has a totally different outlook of and approach to life than her counterpart. As mama describes it, she is the type of person that “wanted nice things” and one whom, from sixteen, “had a style of her own: and knew what style was” (26). Additionally, that she is a woman of “flair,” “brightness,” and “intense colorfulness of style which veritably blocks the sun,” as Houston A. Baker and Charlotte Pierce-Baker speak of in their critical essay on Alice Walker’s use of the quilt in “Everyday Use” (“Patches: Quilts and Community”159). Her outlook seems to be for great aesthetics and grandeur provided by and through her artificial (non-functional) definition of art and heritage illustrated, for example, in her want to use the churn top whittled by her Uncle Buddy as a centerpiece for her alcove instead of as an actual churn top, and, her mother’s quilt to be hung rather than used (Walker 31; 33). In her obvious misunderstanding of the term “heritage,” she defines it as objects (the bench, quilt, etc.) rather than the people who preserve its traditions through participation in them—people, like her sister, who has learned to quilt (Walker 33-34). She stands as the great opposite of Maggie.

Ever since the house that her sister hated burned down and she got partially burned by the fire, Maggie’s character, physical and mental difference, as well as ability, from her sister, Dee, has gotten more defined (Walker 25). As time from there passed and they grew into women, she got the darker skin color, the shallower figure, the uglier hair, the burn scars, and the academically ill-educated mind (Walker 25-26). And, at the same time, she also got the...

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Uploaded by:   Galaghard

Date:   09/24/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,149 words)

Views:   2674

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