Mobeen Ashraf's Request (17 Jul 2019)
Can you please read my paper for grammatical errors? Thanks "Everyday Use" Culture and tradition are integral to the human experience as these two aspects of life are generational and defined by societal behaviors and norms. It is through culture and social norms that our view and perceptions of other people are built. We can see such precepts portrayed in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Us” as the main character and narrator, Mrs. Johnson describes her two daughters. One daughter, Dee, is described as “lighter” with “nicer hair and a fuller figure” than the other daughter, Maggie. It is through Mrs. Johnson’s eyes that we see how both daughters are viewed based on race, culture, and financial status, bringing forth emotions and attributions of resentment, envy, selfishness, materialism, and hypocrisy in her children. One attribute in the daughters that Ms. Johnson describes is resentment and shame, especially in Dee’s character. Dee is abashed by her upbringing, as the family was very poor and had little money. This is exemplified when Dee tells both her mother and sister that when the family moves, she would manage to make frequent visits when possible, but she would refrain from being along with companions (Walker 28). Though education was not a priority at the time and setting in which the story is written, Mr. Johnson was able to send Dee to school with the help of a community scholarship. Because she was educated, it is apparent that Dee sees herself as a learned, exalted individual over both her mother and Maggie. After returning home from college, Dee’s resentment is further exhibited when she reveals to her mother that she wishes to change her name to “Wangero” and that she sees her current name, which was given to her after her late aunt, unbearable as it comes from “the people who oppressed her” (Walker 27). In doing so, we can see Dee’s desire to further distance herself from her family and heritage. We can also see a bit of this same resentment in Mrs. Johnson’s character as she describes herself. She portrays herself to be unattractive and almost barbaric in a way, stating that she is “large and big-boned” and “rough” with “manly hands” (Walker 4). Despite this, in a melancholy way, she also states that she knows she wishes her daughter's desire for her to be of lighter skin color, skinnier, and glistening hair (Walker 4). It seems that Mrs. Walker herself resents her racial makeup, looks, and genetic identity. The other aspects Ms. Johnson describes in her daughters are envy, materialism, and selfishness. Maggie, the more simplistic daughter, is selfless and always sacrificing while Dee, the one who no one can say “no” to (Walker 2), is used to getting what she wants, contributing to her often selfish attitude. Her selfishness and materialistic behavior are exhibited when she demands a yellow-orange dress and shoes, despite knowing her family is poor and doesn’t have the financial means to provide such luxury items (Walker 12). Her selfishness and materialism are also portrayed when she demands her grandmother’s quilt, which her mother was reluctant but willing to give her. It is this selfishness that we can see fuels Maggie’s jealousy for her sister. We can see that she is tired of her sister always getting what she wants as she believes that “her sister has held life always in the palm of her hand”. She even grunts and fusses in the kitchen at the idea that Dee wants their grandmother’s quilts despite her lack of appreciation and understanding of the value if the quilts. Ms. Johnson is fed up with the materialistic and selfishness behavior Dee continues to show because she finally stands firm against her, and refuses to give Dee the blankets and instead promises then to Maggie on her wedding day. Though Maggie finally gets something she wants for once in her life, it is obvious that Dee not getting the blanket to satisfy her own selfish “needs” further divides the two sisters, causing Dee to bitterly leave home in the end. Lastly, another characteristic Ms. Johnson describes among her daughters is hypocrisy. Dee, for example, wishes to hold onto her grandmother’s blanket and heritage, despite viewing her family and background as oppressive and shameful. Though she wishes to distance herself from her family, she wants to take pictures of her family’s home and hang her grandmother’s blanket in her own home so she can exhibit how “proud” she is of her roots. There is even a bit of contradictory behavior in Maggie because despite being strong and appropriative of her background, unlike her sister, she is shy, timid, ashamed and comes off as intimidated by her sister upon her arrival. We can see this as the text clearly states “Maggie will be nervous until her sister goes; she will stand hopelessly in corners homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her legs and arms”. But later, we come to see a different side of Maggie as she stands firmly with her mother against Dee’s behavior when the issue regarding their grandmother’s quilt arises. No longer quiet and shy, Maggie is very vocal in her behavior, as she slams doors and dragging her feet at the very thought of her selfish sister inheriting the old quilts. Another contradiction within Maggie is that despite being less educated than Dee, she seems to be the more mature and sensible one if the two sisters. We see this when Maggie, as an attempt to end her sister’s tantrum, decides to be the bigger and forfeit the quilts and saying “I can remember grandma without the quilts”. Both sisters have both hypocritical and contradict characters. To conclude with the above given, it is apparent that there are many complex emotions and characteristics within the story’s protagonists. It is through Mrs. Johnson’s perceptions that we can assess the aspect of each of her daughters on the basis they're of race, level of education, culture, and financial status. Such factors between the two sisters bring forth themes of resentment, jealousy, egotism, greed, and contributions within each character. One daughter, who is light and describe with “nice hair”, is portrayed as educated with all that she desires at her fingertips. While the other two characters are perceived to be darker, uneducated, and left to live in their misfortune. This metaphorically speaks volumes on how culture, one’s background, and race defines how one thinks and lives within society.
submitted: Jul 17, 2019
responded: Jul 17, 2019
- method: email
You must be signed in to comment...