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The Character Analysis of Dee in "Everyday Use"

In Alice Walker’s famous short story “Everyday Use,” Dee is perceived as an unsympathetic character. It is tough for the reader to feel compassion for Dee since she possesses repelling characteristics she is as authoritative, manipulative, and self-absorbed. Even though “Everyday Use” offers brief glimpses into the past, it is nearly impossible for the reader to have a complete understanding of the truth in Dee’s upbringing prior to the story. Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s play The Heiress presents the journey of Catherine, a character who, in the final scene, shares equivalent traits with Dee even so, the audience witnesses Catherine’s troublesome upbringing and the traumatic events that unfold ahead of the final scene. In The Heiress, the audience sees a change in Catherine, giving reason as to why she grew into a cold-hearted character. “Everyday Use” is equivalent to the last scene of The Heiress, with the substantial distinction that the reader does not have the opportunity to encounter Dee’s journey. This comparison raises a question: Would the reader be more sympathetic towards Dee if the reader actually knew her previous?

It is evident that Dee is the antagonist of Walker’s “Everyday Use.” Though the term “antagonist” does not necessarily describe the villain of a story, Dee is clearly a villain. In the opening paragraph, the character and narrator, Mama, is frightened of her daughter Dee, as she and her youngest daughter, Maggie, wait upon Dee’s arrival. According to Susan Ferrell in her post “Fight Vs. Flight: A Re-Evaluation Of Dee In Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use,’” “Dee inspires in Mama a kind of awe and worry much more suitable to the advent of a goddess than the really like one particular may well count on a mother to really feel for a returning daughter” (Ferrell). After arriving home from college, Dee dresses in attire that is strictly her personal style–completely diverse from the clothing of her sister and mother. Dee says that orchids from property are “tacky flowers,” and Mama just imagines a moment when Dee would pin an orchid on her shirt (Walker 78). Given that moving out of the house, Dee has even changed her name to Wangero, saying “’I couldn’t bear it any longer, becoming named following the people who oppress me’” (Walker 81). And throughout her go to residence Dee has brought with her a boyfriend who says that farming and raising cattle aren’t “his style” (Walker 82).

Whilst Dee has changed her look and life-style to escape her heritage, she also practices manipulative and authoritative tactics to get what she desires. “She would constantly appear any individual in the eyes. Hesitation was no portion in her nature,” Mama would say, and Maggie believes that Dee “has held life always in the palm of one hand, that ‘no’ is a word the world never learned to say to her” (Walker 78). With an overdramatic level of appreciation for property, Dee tries to manipulate her mother into providing her a loved ones heirloom to take back with her to the city. She arrives with a Polaroid camera and “never takes a shot with no creating sure the house is included” (Walker 81). As she sits at the dinner table she exclaims how fantastic the meals is and how she by no means knew how “lovely” the benches had been and that she could “feel the rump prints” in them. All of this prior to saying, “’I knew there was something I wanted to ask you if I could have’” (Walker 82).

In Catherine’s final scene of The Heiress, she shares similar characteristics with Dee. Morris has arrived at Catherine’s home–to the inherited property of her deceased father. Catherine practices fantastic manipulation by agreeing to pursue marriage when once again with Morris, and, following his attempt to embrace her, she says, “Not now, Morris, later. If we start off to kiss we shall in no way make it to the parsonage” (Goetz 87-88). Whilst Morris gathers a few belongings from his home ahead of the elopement, Catherine practices an authority related to Dee’s by closing the drapes on all the windows and ordering her maid to bolt the front door. As she ascends the stairs, Morris bangs on the door, calling for Catherine, but she does not appear back.

Based on the final scene of The Heiress alone, it would be tough for the audience to sympathize with Catherine. Alternatively, the audience cheers for Catherine since the audience has seasoned her journey. At the starting of Act II, Catherine agrees to marry Morris, the first man to court Catherine, a woman who is not described as being stunning. On the night of their elopement, Catherine eagerly awaits Morris in the downstairs of her father’s home with her bags packed however, Morris in no way returns to the house to get her, and she by no means sees him once more till the final scene two years later. Catherine’s view of enjoy was previously distorted by her relationship with her father. Catherine’s mother died in providing birth to her. Her father constantly talked about how Catherine’s mother had so a lot “grace” and “gaiety” and how she was “a pleasure to appear at and be with.” As an alternative of loving Catherine as his daughter, her father says, “I have concentrated my entire life on seeing her approach the perfection of her mother” (Goetz 19). Right after experiencing this journey of heartbreak with Catherine, the audience can readily see the causes for her malicious actions in the final scene.

With the consideration of context clues, it is possible to draw reasonable conclusions from Dee’s unwritten past that would supply a lot more sympathy for her character. It is important to don't forget that “Everyday Use” is told by means of the eyes of Mama: “the perceptions are filtered by means of her mind and her views of her two daughters are not to be accepted uncritically” (Farrell). The way that Mama describes Dee could not be totally correct, because the narrator is also a biased character in the story: “Mama’s expectations of Dee inform us more about Mama herself than they do about Dee” (Farrell). It is clear that Dee had constantly been diverse than her family. She was intelligent, outgoing, and “at sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was” (Walker 79). It is affordable to imagine that Dee felt suffocated by her household and that she was punished for becoming different. In a loved ones with such strong roots, Dee was probably never ever encouraged to dream big or to pursue something outside of her modest town. These are plausible reasons that would cause Dee inhabit the villainous qualities the reader sees in “Everyday Use.”

At the finish of the brief story, Dee tells her small sister, “’You ought to try to make anything of oneself as well, Maggie. It’s a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama nonetheless reside you’d never know it’” (Walker 84). What if the story could have been told in Dee’s point of view more than the course of many years, with “Everyday Use” as the final scene? Would the reader consider of her differently? Even though the reader might fail to sympathize with the Dee presented in the quick story, the reader may be able to sympathize with her previous.

Works Cited

Farrell, Susan. “Fight Vs. Flight: A Re-Evaluation Of Dee In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”.” Studies In Brief Fiction 35.two (1998): 179. Academic Search Full. Net. 18 Feb. 2016.

Goetz, Ruth, and Augustus. The Heiress. New York: Dramatists Play Service Inc., 1946. Print.

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Backpack Literature. 5th ed.: Pearson. 77-85. Print.
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