The character I have chosen from Alice Walker's novel, 'Everyday Use,' is Mama. Mama is a single parent raising two daughters. Mama describes herself as a “large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands. She proudly tells of her ability to kill and clean hogs as “mercilessly” as any man.
I believe these skills were acquired out of sheer survival and necessity. Mama starts the story recalling the dreams she often has in which she and Dee reunite on a television talk show.In this dream she has described herself almost as if it is the woman that she wished she was for example she states she is “a hundred pounds lighter, her skin like an uncooked barley pancake. ” Although she says the way she looks in the dream is the way her daughter would want her to be, I think she longs for that as well.
Mama tells of how she never had an education. The school she attended in the second grade closed down. She and her church raised money to send Dee to school.Instead of showing her mother appreciation for the sacrifices she made to ensure she got an education she often made her mother feel ignorant. Dee went off to school with a thirst for knowledge and led a very different life than Mama and Maggie.
This lack of understanding led to Mama feeling intimidated and rejected by Dee. When Dee ransacks the trunk at the foot of Mama’s bed, she pulls out quilts made from small pieces of garments worn by relatives all the way back to the Civil War. Dee asks Mama for the quilts made by Grandma Dee. This was the first and only sign of Mama exercising her authority as a parent.Dee wanted to hang the quilts as a shrine to her heritage but in actuality she had no clue of her true past or ancestry. Mama decided Maggie would appreciate and respect the quilts and use them and not see them as mere objects.
When I first met Mama in the beginning of the story, Mama longed for the acceptance and love of her daughter Dee. As the story unfolds Mama seemed to accept the fact that her life will now consist of just herself and Maggie. I imagine those dreams of reuniting with Dee will cease because she has accepted the fact that Dee will not be a presence in her nor Maggie’s lives.