To what degree does Mama display a consistent persona in narrating the story?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," Mama's consistent persona is the antithesis of Dee's ever-evolving one. As she and Maggie wait for Dee to arrive, Mama thinks about dreams she has had such as appearing on Johnny Carson or some such show and surprising Dee while Dee, who "has made it," graciously thanks her now-glamorous mother for being the reason she has made it. However, Mama's self-awareness that she can never be or look like what Dee wants adds to the stability that she has been able to provide for herself and Maggie throughout their lives. She has no grand illusions about her femininity—she thinks about how she has "always been better at a man's job"—or how society sees her. Because of this consistent, honest view of herself, Mama is able to remain largely unaffected by Dee's constantly changing versions of herself—from her name change, to unique hairstyles, to greetings in Arabic. Mama knows who she is and makes no apology for it even when her daughter seems to expect one from her.

It is this tenacious true-to-yourself part of Mama's nature which so frustrates Dee but which in the end draws a smile of appreciation from Maggie.

ebingman1 | Student

The character of Mama is a mainstay in Alice Walker's short fiction story. Throughout the changes over time, including the fads which Dee would embrace, Mama does not change. She wears serviceable clothing, which may be unfashionable and masculine, but is appropriate for the work she must perform. Mama does not embrace the African heritage, yet she treasures family quilts that have been passed on for generations for their practical use, as well as their symbolic value of maternal love and family connections. Dee's capricious nature is a foil to Mama's steadfast one.

It is Mama's voice as the narrator, which endures, just as the quilts endure due to their hardy construction. It is she who holds on to given names and understands their value as opposed to the adoption of newer names. She has no time or energy to devote to trends, unlike her daughter Dee. She stands and sweeps her yard of dirt, creating an oasis of calm that opposes the stormy nature of Dee's personality.