In what important ways would the story "Everyday Use" be different if Dee were the narrator telling it from the first-person point of view?

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sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Since Walker tells the story from the first person point of view of the mother, you might consider writing your essay in the first person pov of Dee, using her language. Consider the passage in which the mother describes her strengths, how she can slaughter hogs, for example, and that her hands are those of a man.  How would Dee describe herself?  Would she be concerned about a manicure rather than having strong hands?  Or would she consider what a more trendy idea of hands might be as an African-American woman (as she understands that heritage, given her new name)?  What do you think she says to her boyfriend on their trip to her mother’s house?  Did she explain to him the fire that deformed her sister for life?  What does she say to him as they drive away after that difficult conversation with her mother?  According to her mother, Dee learns little after their meeting, but perhaps in talking to her boyfriend on their way back home she reveals something that she might in fact have learned.  Her dark sunglasses that cover her eyes at the end of the story symbolize she doesn’t “see” (or understand) the meaning of heritage and identity, so, if you think she might in fact learn something (that her mother doesn’t notice), when she is in the car she could take off those glasses to symbolize her new state of mind.  These are just some ways to think about this fascinating essay topic.

bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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First, consider what kind of person Dee is. How does she view her mother and sister? Does she look down on them because they're poor? Does she think she's better than they are? What's important to Dee? Why does she want the quilt and other things from her mother's house? She sees the things as collectibles to display in her apartment, but her mom still uses them.

After answering the questions above, go back through the events of the story and ask how Dee would feel and what she would say about it. For example, do you think Dee is looking forward to going to see her mother and sister? Probably not. What kinds of things might she say to her male friend who goes with her? How do you think Dee feels when her mother takes the quilt and gives it to her sister? Is she hurt or angry? What does Dee say when she leaves her mother's house? 

Dee is going to see things differently than her mother. If you have an argument with someone, you tell your point of view of the argument. The person you have an argument with sees it a different way. This is the same thing that the question is asking. List the main events of the story and then write down how Dee would feel and what she would say because Dee lives in a totally different world than her mom and sister. You'll have a new perspective on the story.


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