Table of Contents Mama Mama, the narrator of the story, is a strong, loving mother who is sometimes threatened and burdened by her daughters, Dee and Maggie. Mama is brutally honest and often critical in her assessment of both Dee and Maggie. Mama resents the education, sophistication, and air of superiority that Dee has acquired over the years.
Use by Alice Walker I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon.
A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes Mama in everyday use never come inside the house.
Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her. You've no doubt seen those TV shows where the child who has "made it" is confronted, as a surprise, by her own mother and father, tottering in weakly from backstage.
A pleasant surprise, of course: What would they do if parent and child came on the show only to curse out and insult each other? On TV mother and child embrace and smile into each other's faces. Sometimes the mother and father weep, the child wraps them in her arms and leans across the table to tell how she would not have made it without their help.
I have seen these programs. Sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort. Out of a dark and soft.
There I meet a smiling, gray, sporty man like Johnny Carson who shakes my hand and tells me what a fine girl I have. Then we are on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes. She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks orchids are tacky flowers.
In real life I am a large, big. In the winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls dur. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man.
My fat keeps me hot in zero weather. I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing; I can eat pork liver cooked over the open fire minutes after it comes steaming from the hog. One winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledge hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall.
But of course all this does not show on television. I am the way my daughter would want me to be: My hair glistens in the hot bright lights. Johnny Carson has much to do to keep up with my quick and witty tongue. But that is a mistake.
I know even before I wake up. Who ever knew a Johnson with a quick tongue? Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye? It seems to me I have talked to them always with one foot raised in flight, with my head fumed in whichever way is farthest from them. She would always look anyone in the eye.
Hesitation was no part of her nature. Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground.
Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure. She's a woman now, though sometimes I forget.
How long ago was it that the other house burned? Sometimes I can still hear the flames and feel Maggie's arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black papery flakes.
Her eyes seemed stretched open, blazed open by the flames reflected in them. I see her standing off under the sweet gum tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red. Why don't you do a dance around the ashes?"Everyday Use" is a widely studied and frequently anthologized short story by Alice Walker.
It was first published in as part of Walker's short story collection In Love and Trouble. The short story is told in first person by "Mama", an African-American woman living .
Everything you ever wanted to know about The Narrator a.k.a. Mrs. Johnson a.k.a. Mom in Everyday Use, written by masters of this stuff just for you.
- Everyday Use, written by Alice Walker is a short story narrated from the eyes of the character Mama. The author uses cultural symbolism throughout her work to tell the tale of struggle between a mother and her two daughters.
Mama Gentle and stern, her inner monologue offers us a glimpse of the limits of a mother’s unconditional love. She harshly describes shy, withering Maggie’s limitations, and Dee provokes an . Everyday Use Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for Everyday Use is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the central conflict surrounds Mama and her daughter Dee, who is an educated cosmopolitan unlike her mother and her sister, Maggie. Dee, who has changed her.