What is the point of view in "Everyday Use"?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Everyday Use," the point of view is first person. Mrs. Johnson, mother of Dee and Maggie, appears as a character in the story and is our narrator. From Mrs. Johnson's first person narration, we get her perception of her two daughters.

According to Mrs. Johnson, Dee and Maggie are completely different. Dee (Wangero) is confident and attractive. Maggie is shy and awkward. Maggie is reserved and feels that Dee has had a much easier life. "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." 

Mrs. Johnson daydreams about Dee becoming famous and having some type of dramatic moment on national television with her. Mrs. Johnson quickly follows this daydream with more realistic, less glamorous descriptions of herself and her life. From these descriptions and the conversations with Dee/Wangero, Mrs. Johnson demonstrates her criticism of that glamorous, modern way life while also demonstrating her appreciation for a practical, honest way of life. In this way, she shows solidarity with Maggie.

However, the story is more complicated in terms of how Dee tries to incorporate her African heritage with her American family history. If the narration would have been third person omniscient, we might know more about Dee's thoughts and feelings. Such additional information might portray Dee more favorably. But since we only have Mrs. Johnson's point of view, the conclusion seems to suggest that Dee is largely superficial and only embraces African culture and modern social movements because they are fashionable.