What is the mood of “Everyday Use?”

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favoritethings's profile pic

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

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In the beginning of the story, Mama Johnson is somewhat wistful, dreaming of a television-style reunion with her estranged daughter, Dee, but she seems to know that such a tearful and happy reunion is simply not to be.  Further, Maggie, her other daughter, is immediately described as one who 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."  Thus, even initially, Mama seems to prepare herself (and us) for the inevitable emotional fall-out of Dee's impending visit.  She tells us that she thinks Dee "will want to tear [the house] down" when she sees it, that Dee once wrote that she would never bring her friends to visit her family, as though Mama, Maggie, and their home are a source of embarrassment to her.  Therefore, I would describe the mood as one of inevitability; Mama and Maggie anticipate discomfort even before Dee arrives, and her visit doesn't fail to provide what they've assumed it will. 

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The mood of this story is somewhat tense, as it revolves around a family conflict, between Dee and her mother and sister. Mrs Johnson, the mother and narrator of the story, makes quite clear her conflicting feelings about her daughters - Dee, the outgoing confident type, who has left the family home, and Maggie the shy withdrawn younger one. Mrs Johnson feels apprehensive about Dee's visit, and it does prove difficult. The story does raise serious issues like the value of one's cultural heritage, family conflict, and social issues such as the general lack of opportunity for poor black women like Maggie and her mother (although Dee did receive an education). However there is also some comedy which results from the lack of understanding between Mrs Johnson and Dee, and more especially Dee's boyfriend, and the whole thing is relayed to us through Mrs Johhson's engagingly conversational idiom. 

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