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Everyday Use Essay

The psychological approach was developed by Sigmund Freud. He is the father of psychoanalysis. And his principal ideas are very essential to an understanding of literature and criticism. Freud compared the mind to an iceberg, of which only a small portion is visible; the rest is below the waves of the sea. When it comes to the elements of the psyche, Freud hypothesized that we have several psychic structures that make up the personality and clash with one another. These structures are the Id, Ego and Superego.

According to Freud, we are born with our Id, with such things as hunger, sex or aggression. The id doesn’t care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction. And Freud believed that the id is based on our pleasure principle. However, the ego is based on the reality principle. The ego understands that other people have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us. The superego is the moral part of us and develops because of some ethical restraints which placed on us in our early age. Therefore, it is ruled by the moral principle. Every individual is composed of different amounts of each psychic structure. The ultimate goal is to achieve the balance of the three areas by understanding how each area works alone and contributes to make the whole.

Dee and Maggie are two African American sisters who have obtained contrasting lifestyles. Although the two sisters grew up in the same home environment,“Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker, illustrates Dee and Maggie’s divergence in character caused by their separation in economic status.

Dee The id is the main energy source for the psyche. The id “knows no values, no good and evil, no morality”. In the short story “Everyday Use”, Dee’s actions are clearly attributed to her overdeveloped id, which is a distorted sense of ego, and an underdeveloped superego.

The id functions according to instinctive motives. Dee, who preferred to be called Wangero, has a straightforward, blunt disposition about life. Life is under her control and she won’t let anything stand in her way. She takes on the attitude that the world was created to satisfy her. In changing her name, she expected the world to recognize her change. Her id was overdeveloped because she acted on instinctive motives rather than moral for her decisions. The overdeveloped id frequently emerges when the self-centered side of her becomes more prominent than her moral and selfless side. Moreover, she may have been exposed to the accepted social morals and values, but we know for sure. Dee’s behaviors were not considered in the range of the social norms for her time period. This observation leads me to believe her id overpowers her ability to comprehend the wide range of situations brought before her.

Maggie The superego protects society by housing our morals and values. Society greatly influences the development of our superego, but it is ultimately our decision how we choose to define our principles. From this story, Maggie is uneducated and lives with their mother in a poor living condition. She lives a simple life, carries on old traditions at home and receives from life whatever she is given, as opposed to Dee, who has a wealthy boyfriend and sufficient education. Maggie is ashamed of being a burnt victim in the fire that destroyed their first home. Even when she is facing her Mama, she hides her thin body in a pink skirt and red blouse behind the door. Also, she walks with “chin on her chest, eyes on the ground” She is more than the girl who hides from the world and concedes to a truth that tells her “she is somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her.”

Mother The ego is the rational slice of the three mental zones. It has less drive than the id and its function is to regulate between the id and superego in an attempt to locate and maintain a comfortable medium; it focuses on the protection of the individual. Here, Mother is a mixture of ego and superego; she is caught between the pleasure principle and the morality principle. She tries to be a decent and kind mother with both children cared and tries not to embarrass Dee by meeting her immediate needs as possible as she can even they make no sense.

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