How do Maggie's scars affect her life in "Everyday Use"?

Expert Answers
thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maggie’s scars had made her grow into a shy young lady. She avoided contact from people she met, such as the instance when she was unable to accept a hug from Dee’s boyfriend. She lacked confidence in herself and was always intimidated by her sister, who she viewed as perfect.

Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her.

She was not scholarly like her sister and this was likely because, by going to school she was bound to meet and interact with many different people, something she was uncomfortable with because of how she viewed herself. Due to this, she chose to stay back home with her mother, helping her in the chores around the farm.

That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground.

Maggie suffered the burns when their old house burned down while she was inside. She survived but the ordeal and aftermath left her a changed young girl both physically and psychologically.

How long ago was it that the other house burned? Ten, twelve years? Sometimes I can still hear the flames and feel Maggie's arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black papery flakes.