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Narrative Imbalance In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Humans differ in personality. What a man love may be a dislike to another. We are also associated with one culture or the other, which often shape our choice to life, culture, and heritage. It is however not uncommon to see people reject their culture and heritage. They tend to go after a culture which seems to be more valuable or modern. They, however, view their culture as barbaric and archaic. In the short story, Everyday Use by Alive Walker, there are three siblings that tend to have different view pertaining to culture and heritage. The story portrays cultural conflict among siblings.

Dee declines to represent her heritage in the noteworthiness of her name since she profoundly trusts that they have conveyed a past filled with mistreatments and pains. In addition, Mama couldn’t comprehend the reasons Dee chooses to change her name, to her, changing name implies changing family customs and an abandonment of traditional legacy. This extract from the story has it that: “‘well,’ I say. ‘Dee.’ ‘No, Mama,’ she says. ‘Not Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!’ ‘What happened to Dee?’ I wanted to know. ‘She’s dead,’ Wangero said. ‘I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me’” (Walker 5). One could question Mamas response to Dee’s change of name. Why does she feel what Dee did was not right. If Dee has thought within her that her name points to sorrow and remind her of pains, she is free to have done that for happiness. Mama’s choice of heritage over her daughter’s choice of happiness demands to question. Dee couldn’t retain her identity stating that I can’t be named after the people who oppress me. Does this suggest that Dee’s life has not been that rosy as the narrator presents it to look like?

Is Dee a materialistic character?

Dee was portrayed to speak to a materialistic, complex, and current lifestyle where culture and legacy are to be esteemed just for their patterns and stylish interest. Same cannot be spoken of her mother who believes that culture and heritage should speak to a straightforward substance lifestyle where culture and legacy are esteemed for the duo; its value and its own centrality. Dee’s appreciation is for aesthetic purposes. Her response to Mamas inquiry suggests that. ‘’Well,’ I said, stumped. ‘What would you do with them7’ ‘Hang them,’ she said.”’ She is only interested in identifying with her culture on the surface level. Why the mother did sees this as a being uncultured? Culture and heritage can also be promoted by appreciation and exhibition, Mama hasn’t discovered this. Dee could have been able to use the quilts for such. There could have been people in the city who could have got to know more about Dee’s heritage and cultural background by seeing the quilts hung in her house. The mother did not permit that, as the quilts were withdrawn.

Imbalance parental upbringing

One could ask why the mother brought forth two different distinct individuals. Maggie was a quiet personality, whereas Dee is a goal setter that always gets what she needs. Moody and Walker clarify the noteworthy contrasts between the storyteller’s girls by stating that ‘the more seasoned little girl Dee is an accomplished and refined young woman who leaves home to acquire extra training. Maggie, the specific bashful and generally talented little girl experiences physically and sincerely a house fire.’ (Walker 327). Ms. Johnson describes Dee’s delightful feet as: “God himself had shaped them with a certain style” and later refers to Maggie’s walk like that of a lame animal.’ Mama seems to like Maggie by giving her the quilts, but her description of her personality is contrary and this is not expected of a mother. She could sell all her belongings for Dee’s education whereas she has done little or nothing for Maggie.

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If the story were to be shared by Dee, will it have been the same?

Mama seems to be a stereotypical narrator who presents details from her pleasing point of view. There seems to be more to those characters than what was explained by the narrator. Mama was willing to complete her education but she was not opportune to have done that. One is pressed to ask that if she has the privilege of completing her formal education, would she still hold such opposing view about her daughter newly found culture. For instance “A dress down to the ground, in this hot weather. A dress so loud it hurts my eyes. There are yellows and oranges enough to throw back the light of the sun. I feel my whole face warming from the heat waves it throws out. Earrings, too, gold and hanging down to her shoulders. Bracelets dangling and making noises when she moves her arm up to shake the folds of the dress out of her armpits”. (Walker, 1944, Para 20). If she has the same opportunity her daughter has, she would have appreciated Gee’s outfit than she did.

Dee is a beautiful and stunning lady. Her choice of ornament presents her to be a classic lady, who likes to look good. On the contrary, the mother seems to present to readers that she was not finding her dressing to be cultured. She devotes this by stating thus: ‘A dress down to the ground, in this hot weather. A dress so loud it hurts my eyes. There are yellows and oranges enough…’ (Walker, 1944, Para 20). The narrator seems to be blind to beauty. She described Dees dressing sarcastically by trying to ridicule the stunning regalia.

A controversial personality

Dee could be said to be a controversial personality. Her likeness for cultural crafts and quilts does not find expression in her actions. She didn’t see her culture as what should find expression in her dressing and way of life. She rather prefers the aesthetic value of the culture and heritage. She wants the quilt not for its purpose but for aesthetic. She is willing to take pictures of her family house than getting to know how her parent feels and they are living. ‘Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they’d be in rags. Less than that!’ she spoke like one who would use the quilts better. Dee could be referred to as an educated elite who sees herself to be more important than the rest of her family. One could ask that, did education made her forget her values and respect. Could she have been able to balance her newly found culture and her old culture? She is a hypocritical personality.

Mrs. Johnson is a biased mother. She is willing to give Maggie the quilts but she withdrew it from Dee. “Then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero’s hands and dumped them into Maggie’s lap.” Is her action justified? Both ladies are her children. She has done that due to what Dee would use the quilt for. She wanted to hang it in her house. Does Mama’s action negate Dee’s right to the material? This and more question are to be asked by the narrator.

Conclusively, Maggie and her mother hold the sentiment that one’s culture depends on the establishment of acquired values and. Then again, Dee sees culture as something that is never again pertinent in the cutting edge society since it has been washed away by history.

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Narrative Imbalance In Everyday Use By Alice Walker. (2021, August 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-imbalance-in-everyday-use-by-alice-walker/
“Narrative Imbalance In Everyday Use By Alice Walker.” Edubirdie, 09 Aug. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-imbalance-in-everyday-use-by-alice-walker/
Narrative Imbalance In Everyday Use By Alice Walker. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-imbalance-in-everyday-use-by-alice-walker/> [Accessed 27 Sept. 2022].
Narrative Imbalance In Everyday Use By Alice Walker [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Aug 09 [cited 2022 Sept 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-imbalance-in-everyday-use-by-alice-walker/
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