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The Plot And Conflict Of Short Stories English Literature Essay


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In many short stories, the author portrays evil characters as being good. However by the characters actions, many readers are able to figure out what the characters personality is actually like. The problems and situation surrounding these characters leads readers into believing that these characters are truly evil. However in Alice Walker's short story, "Everyday Use" she demonstrates how the protagonist, Dee who prefers being called Wangero, actions are clearly misunderstood by her mother who is the narrator. Mama the narrator shows the conflicts that Dee has with her and her younger sister Maggie. Although the protagonist Dee is portrayed by the author as being goodwill, she is selfish and a heartless person when she watches her house burn down and fights for the prized quilts that Mama has saved.

When Dee returns home to visit Maggie and her Mama she expresses her internal conflicts by changing her name from Dee to Wangero. When Mama asks what happened to Dee, Dee replies with "She's dead," Wangero said. "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people that oppress me." (282). Dee's internal conflict between herself when she changes her name to Wangero is "to express solidarity with her African ancestors and to reject the oppression implied by the taking on of American names by black slaves" (web). Dee's college stay changed her life transitioning the way she thinks when she came back home from school. Her transition brought about other conflicts that were caused from her modern education. Dee was taught what was beautiful and what style is so she would argue that her mother does not fit what she thought attractiveness really is. The narrator tells how Dee would like her to look. "The way my daughter wants me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake" (289).

When the narrator Mama notices Dee's transitions, she has difficulties getting over them. The narrator Mama has difficulties getting over Dee's sense of style. She states "Often I fought off the temptation to shake her. At sixteen she had a style of her own and knew what style was" (281). The mother only had a second grade education because her school was closed down and around that time colored people didn't ask a lot of questions. The mother's difficulties of getting over Dee's transitions are because times were different when they both went to school. When the narrator Mama went to school, style would be the last thing that any colored child would think about. The disagreements between the Mama and Dee are caused by Dee's traditional education way of thinking. When Dee went to school she had more freedom to express herself by showing her sense of style. The narrator shows this and expresses how when Dee wants something she has to have it when she says "Dee wanted nice things. A yellow organdy dress to wear to her graduation from high school; black pumps to match a green suit she'd made from an old suit somebody gave me" (281).

Throughout "Everyday Use" the narrator Mama shows that Dee's actions reveal that she is a selfish and heartless person. She hated the house that she grew up in as a child and the mother knew that she would hate the new house because it was similar to the old one. "This house is in a pasture, too, like the other one. No doubt when Dee sees it she will want to tear it down" (281). When the first house burned down Dee just stood back and watched it burn. It is possible that Dee burned down the house and may be the reason why Maggie is scared for life. As the narrator states "And Dee. 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 hot brick chimney" (280). Dee reveals her selfishness when she argues with her mother about wanting the old quilts. Dee expresses her external conflicts when wanting the quilts for her own desires. Dee wants to hang the quilts in her house to show her sense of style. The narrator Mama has plans of giving the quilts to her younger daughter Maggie since she quilted them with her aunt and her grandmother who taught her how to quilt. Dee says that Maggie will put the quilts to everyday use because she is selfish and wants them for herself not knowing what they mean to Maggie.

In Alice walker's "Everyday Use" the narrator Mama's feelings changes toward her older daughter Dee because of the transitions in her life that have caused many conflicts between her and Dee. Dee changing her name makes her Mama like she doesn't like her heritage and because her name Dee shows family unity. Dee exposes how heartless she can be when she is watching her house burn down while her younger sister Maggie is still inside causing her to be scarred for life. The narrator Mama reveals how much her older daughter Dee is selfish when Dee wants the prized quilts that Mama has kept for her younger daughter Maggie. In Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" the narrator Mama reveals to the audience how selfish and heartless her older daughter Dee really is.

Work Cited

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Liturature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th Compact ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 279-290. Print

"Everyday Use." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): Literary Reference

Center. EBSCO. Web. 24 Jan. 2010.

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