Everyday Use Questions and Answers
by Alice Walker

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What type of character is Maggie in "Everyday Use"?

Maggie in "Everyday Use" is a foil character, exhibiting characteristics opposite to those of her sister, Dee. She is also a deuteragonist, second only to her mother in importance in this story.

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Maggie is, in just about every way, the polar opposite of her sister, Dee. She is shy, reticent, and loving. She is not ambitious, but she seems content to live the simple, quiet life that she enjoys with her mother. She is a dutiful daughter and a kind-hearted person.

In terms of narrative structures, Maggie is a foil character, exhibiting opposite traits to those exhibited by her sister, Dee. While Dee, our antagonist, has left her family life far behind her in search of a better life, Maggie has stayed close to her mother's side, living a quiet and secluded life in which she is able to hide the injuries that she sustained in a house fire as a child.

It could also be argued that she is a deuteragonist, which is defined as a character only slightly less important than the protagonist which, in the case of "Everyday Use," is Mama. A deuteragonist can be either a good or a a bad character, and in Maggie's case, she is the epitome of goodness. One of the most prominent characteristics that readers get to see in Maggie is her generous spirit and unwillingness to get into an argument. Despite the fact that her mother had promised her the family quilts, she offers to let Dee take them when her sister expresses a strong desire for them. It could also be argued that this represents an inability to stand up for herself.

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