Symbolism And Character Development In Everyday Use

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In summary, everyday use is a short story told from Mamar’s point of view, she is described as a “big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (Walker, P. 1126). At the very start of the story, Mama awaits for the return visit of Dee, her eldest daughter.

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Mama and her younger daughter, Maggie, stands next to each other as they both hesitantly awaits the arrival of Dee. As they are waiting, the audience receives a taste of Mama’s life and her relationship with Dee. Apart from Mama and Maggie, we learn that Dee have always desired more than her family history or Mama could offer her. Dee is educated and is clearly intelligent and driven, we get the sense that her achievements have come at the cost of her mother and her younger sibling.

When Dee finally showed up at the scene, she was accompanied by a young man named Hakim-a-barber, whom Mama refers to as “Asalamalakim”. As soon as Dee showed up, it was clear that she was not the same person she is now then when she left, starting with the fact that she insisted on being called, Wangero rather than her original name, Dee. Both Dee and her boyfriend are more focused on getting artifacts than truly connecting and engaging with Mama and Maggie. They searched through Mamar’s belongings in hope of finding original pieces of old rural black life (history), a life and history that Dee has long ago divorced herself from. Dee continuously shoots insults at Mama and Maggie, indirect as casual chit-chat, directed at Mama and her sister. Dee demands on obtaining old quilts that are put away for Maggie. After Mamar’s endurance of Deer’s inappropriate insults, mama informs “Wangero” to take two other quilts not intended for Maggie and depart. Dee advices Maggie to make something of herself and mockingly direct at her Mama that she contains no understanding of her own heritage. Next, Dee and Hakim-a-barber got into their car and depart.


In Everyday Use, Walker uses the possessions found in Mamar’s home that represent culture, heritage and tradition. Dee arrives to visit her mother and at her arrival, she saw her motherr’s house as a symbol of her childhood and background. Dee begins to notice her surroundings. The first thing she paid attention to was the benches. As she takes time to the admiration of the benches, Dee says, You can feel the rump prints (Walker 112). This scene from the story clearly conveys to the audience that the author intentionally put that sentence to tell the readers that the benches hold a history. In other words, the benches have been in home for many years. Therefore, the benches stand as a representation of the characters past and experiences.

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