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A focus on the four main characters of the story of everyday use

She reflects on the differences between Dee and Maggie, her youngest daughter, and knows that Maggie will be anxious around Dee and self-conscious. Maggie was burned in a house fire that happened more than a decade ago, where Mama carried her out in her arms as Dee watched the house burn.

The narrator continues to paint a focus on the four main characters of the story of everyday use picture of Maggie as helpless and rather awkward, whereas Dee is beautiful and seems to have had an easier time in life. Mama discusses the physical differences between the three: When Dee finally arrives, she has also brought with her a man who Mama refers to as Hakim-a-barber.

Dee takes photos of Mama and Maggie in front of the house, and the greetings are stiff and unfamiliar. Dee informs her mother that she has now changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo in order a focus on the four main characters of the story of everyday use protest the oppression and cultural white washing Black Americans faced. Mama rejects this, telling Dee she was named after her Aunt Dicie, who in turn was named after Grandma Dee, and that the name went on through the generations.

Dee gives Mama the option of not using her new name and Mama concludes that Hakim-a-barber must be related to a family of Muslims down the road.

Hakim-a-barber says he accepts some of the doctrines of his beef-raising family, but is not interested in farming or herding as a profession. Mama does not know whether Hakim-a-barber and Dee are married, and does not ask.

Hakim-a-barber has a special diet to follow, but Dee digs in to the food Mama made. She begins asking for things around the house, like the top of a butter churn, and eventually she asks for a quilt as well. She adds that Mama should try and improve, and that there is a new path for Black Americans to follow.

Maggie and Mama sit in the yard after watching them drive off until bedtime. She seeks to embrace her cultural identity through changing her name from Dee to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo an African namemarrying a Muslim man, and acquiring artifacts from Mama's house to put on display, an approach that puts her at odds with Mama and Maggie.

She is very physically beautiful and is described as having a great sense of style. Mama — She is described as a "large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands.

Everyday Use

Maggie — Described by Mama as dull and unattractive, the youngest daughter Maggie has burn scars and marks from the burning down of their prior home, and is very nervous and self-conscious because of it. She leads a simple and traditional life with her mother in the South while her elder sister, Dee, is away at school. She has very limited a focus on the four main characters of the story of everyday use ability, unlike her sister Dee.

Eventually he tells Mama to call him "Hakim-a-barber" due to Mama being unable to pronounce his actual name. He is short and stocky and has long hair that reaches his waist and a long, bushy beard. We do not learn in the story whether they are dating, engaged, or married. Themes[ edit ] One of the primary themes of "Everyday Use," is the idea of a person's relationship to their culture.

In the story, Dee's mother remained close to immediate family traditions, while Dee herself chose to search more deeply into her African roots. Because of her different mindset, she does not have the same ideals as Mama and Maggie, particularly in regard to cultural preservation and the best way to go about it.

Christianthe story is discussed in reference to slavery and the black power movement. The characters in the story focus a lot on African culture and heritage. Traditional African clothing is described throughout the story, and this is a symbol of the family's heritage. The mentioning of changing names relates back to slavery as well; the characters were trying to forget about their slave names, and think of more traditional names to remember their culture and "[affirm] their African roots.

The essay describes Dee as an artist who "returns home. Although she changes her name from Dee to a more Native African name and wears African clothing, she lacks a focus on the four main characters of the story of everyday use knowledge of her culture. Because of this, Mama chooses Maggie over Dee to take the quilts, because Maggie shows more appreciation and knowledge of their culture and as she said in the story was involved in the making of those quilts whereas Dee had no part in.

Symbolism[ edit ] This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. August 2015 Learn how and when to remove this template message One symbol found in this short story is the quilt. The quilt itself is a very meaningful item in the sense that it has history in it. It includes clothes that Dee's great grandma used to wear and pieces of uniforms that Dee's great grandpa wore during the Civil War.

However, it also symbolizes value in Negro-American experience. The quilt additionally adds to the idea of creative activities women came up with to pass down history from generation to generation as a part of their heritage. The yard seems to be a place to think for Mama, where she can imagine herself being someone more conventionally attractive than she actually is, but also remember just how much she has done for her family.

He argues that the text itself is what antagonizes the reader to grow this dislike of Dee: Johnson [Mama] is both narrator and character, has an immediate and forceful effect upon our perception of Dee.