How does Robert in "Mulatto" compare with Dee in "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If you are looking to write a paper on this topic, you might be interested in checking out our page, "How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay."

Good Luck!  These are both wonderful stories. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Dee is the oldest daughter in "Everyday Use."  Robert is the youngest son in Mulatto.  Both Dee and Robert struggle with a sense of identity.  Dee, who grew up very poor and who resented this, was able to go to "the big city" and go to college.  Even though she was angry and ashamed of her background growing up, once she became "educated," she wanted to go back to her African roots and change her name to cast off her upbringing; when she goes home, she wants to take items that Maggie and Mama use to, essentially, display as museum-type pieces.  Dee, however, was out of touch with her true heritage. 

Robert, on the other hand, is unable to embrace his heritage because of his oppressive father in Mulatto.  He is the product of an affair between a white man and his African-American housekeeper.  Colonel Norwood outwardly denies that Robert is his son; however, he is his favorite "Mulatto" child until Robert tells some people that he is Colonel Norwood's child.  He is sent off to school and when he returns to the plantation, he is well educated and deems himself better than the other children, which gives him a false sense of superiority.  Unfortunately, he is treated poorly because of his race, and when he confronts his father, they argue and he chokes him to death.  Afterwards, Robert realizes that he will be hanged and he shoots himself to avoid that fate.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial