Siblings, who grow up together, do not always end up alike. In “Everyday use,” by Alice Walker, Dee and Maggie are sisters who are both raised in the rural South. After a tragic incident of their house burning down, Maggie is left traumatized while Dee sees the incident as a positive occurrence. Ten to twelve years later, Dee comes back to their new home for a visit, and Dee and Maggie’s differences are magnified. Although Dee and Maggie are sisters who have grown up together, their physical appearances, personalities, and knowledge of heritage differ immensely.
First, Dee and Maggie have contrasting physical appearances. Dee is a full figured woman who grooms herself to impress others. Dee “has a style of her own: and knows what style is” (545). In the rural South, fashion is not as important as other aspects such as providing a meal; however Dee is able to separate herself from the idea of what is important in the South. During her high school graduation, she wears a yellow organdy dress, black pumps, and an altered green suit, which is already more contemporary than what other people wear. When Dee returns for a visit, she has a new bright, flamboyant appearance that leaves her mother and Maggie speechless because it is drastically different compared to what they are used to. Dee also has lighter skin and nicer hair, which is probably uncommon because those features are difficult to maintain after the physical labor that typically needs to be done in the South. Unlike Dee, Maggie conforms to a traditional Southern appearance. Maggie has physical traits similar to her mother such as dark skin and bad hair. Maggie’s mother compares her walk to the way an injured animal acts towards its savoir. According to their mother, Maggie has been walking with her “chin on chest, eyes on ground, [and] feet in shuffle” (544) since their house burned down. Since Maggie feels grief from the loss of her home, she shows her sadness through her appearance. Maggie may feel...
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