Elaborate on any 3 different conflicts in the story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker.

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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The three conflicts which structure Alice Walker's moving short story "Everyday Use" are:

1. Fantasy and reality: The story begins with the mother dreaming and fantasizing about how she would like her relationship with Dee to be:"You've no doubt seen those TV shows where the child who has "made it" is confronted..........But that is a mistake. I know even before I wake up." The mother desires to have a sentimental relationship with Dee whom she expects to be overwhelmingly and eternally grateful towards her for all the sacrifices she had made to give her a prosperous life style. Hence the difference between the mother's dream and expectations and the reality of the situation where Dee has scant regard or respect for her mother's expectations.

2. Conservative and progressive attitude: Dee has changed her name into the African Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, because her old name "Dee" reminded her of her white colonial masters. Outwardly her reason for changing her name might be politically correct but its certainly not culturally correct.  Her entire past is negated because of this name change. Dee's mother traces the family history of that name saying, "though, in fact, I probably could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches."  Thus the conservative attitude of the mother clashes with the progressive attitude of Dee.

3. Education: Dee was the intelligent girl who graduated from high school in Augusta unlike Maggie who "knows that she is not bright" and only semi literate;  the mother of course confesses, "I never had an education myself." Thus education and a lack of education is also a source of conflict in the mother - daughter relationship and sister - sister relationship:

"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, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe."

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