Analysis of Dee, a Character in the Story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

The story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a personal account of Mama, one of the characters in the narrative. Mama has two children, Dee and Maggie, and the two have different personalities. Maggie is portrayed as a soft lady who has had a tragic life. However, Dee is illustrated as a self-centered person who has no respect for others. Dee’s character is unique to herself, and it portrays some of the current generations who claim to be fighting for their rights. In the narrative, Dee is described as selfish, insensitive, and lost.

Dee is an arrogant character in the play who only cares about herself. Even though Mama and Maggie love her, Dee never thinks of their affection and is reluctant to be accepted. Dee’s arrogance is manifested when Mama states, “she used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice (Walker, n.d., p. 2). Mama begins to see Dee’s actions as extreme, and her quest for education is to gain knowledge so that she can rule over Mama and Maggie.

Dee is also an unsympathetic character due to her actions that are illustrated in the story. She is determined to see her family even though she is not acknowledged anymore. Her mother disapproves of her dress code and way of life, but this does not deter her from visiting the family. She states she is reclaiming her heritage, yet her actions, when she states that “but from the way, you and Mama still live you’d never know it” (Walker, n.d., p. 4), demonstrates otherwise. Additionally, the story was written during the black power movement. Therefore, Dee’s actions represent African Americans who were unsympathetic when fighting for their rights.

Finally, Dee is a lost individual who has forgotten about her heritage. She acts as a stranger to the family and even changes her name. By changing it to an African one, Dee connects herself with idealized Africa instead of relating with her real black American family (Walker, n.d.). She takes the photos of her sister and mother, illustrating that she has delinked with her family heritage instead of embracing her past. Hence, Dee is a lost character who never values where she comes from.

In conclusion, Dee is a unique character because she is insensitive, selfish, and arrogant. She only cares about herself and never thinks of the feelings of others. Moreover, the story was written during the black power movement, when African Americans were fighting for their rights in the US. Dee, therefore, behaves as an insensitive, selfish, and arrogant person to illustrate the black community’s quest to be treated as essential people in society.


Walker, A. (n.d.). Everyday use. Harper’s Magazine. Web.

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