Everything we do and everything we are has its own good and bad sides to it. Take the sisters Maggie and Dee (Wangero) for example. Upon reading the story, both sisters seem to be complete opposites of each other; Dee being pretty, confident, bright, and successful whereas Maggie was established to be, for lack of a better term, ugly (probably due to her burn scars), extremely shy (probably because of her burns again. ), not so bright and unproductive. Dee seemed to be the bitchy antagonist of the story while Maggie was the lowly protagonist who always gets stepped on by the antagonist.
Both characters have very different personalities. However, both characters also have good and bad sides to their personalities, no matter how much one in inclined to be more antagonistic and the other the protagonist. Let us now analyze the two characters in more detail and thus the story as well. It seems that most both character’s traits stemmed from their physical appearance. Dee (Wangero) was established to be a beautiful woman. All positive traits seem to have blessed to her.
This is probably where her confidence, and maybe even her arrogance as “she would look anyone in the eye,” may have come from this (273). While Maggie on the other hand was severely burned when their house burned down when they were still very young. The accident left her with lots of burn scars thus distorting her physical appearance greatly. Her scars made her shy of interacting with other people because it gave her the notion that she is ugly. Her self confidence did not develop as a result of that.
She also did not get to have a proper education, again because she is very shy to mingle with other. The only person she interacted with was their mother; she herself is not well educated. This is another reason why it seems that Maggie still acts like a child. Being with her mother her whole life, she always remained being the daughter. This is where her bad side comes in. She became too shy and unconfident that she did not learn to improve herself and be successful. All she knew was to cling to her mother’s decisions for her which is why she would not know hw to live without her mother.
Dee had developed a strong personality, maybe even too strong even for their mother. She knows what she wants, gets what she wants, and sternly imposes them without accepting no for an answer as according to their mother when she narrated about how Dee read books to them: She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know.
Pressed us to her the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand. (274) Dee also seems to be the unappreciative type. She is ashamed of her roots and her family that “she will manage to come see us [her mother and sister], but she will not bring friends” (274). She even had the nerve to change her name given the fact that her name is a part of her heritage, for she was named after her aunt, who was also named after her grandmother, and probably so on and so forth.
However, no matter how ungrateful she might seem to be, she still has some respect and appreciation for their family’s heritage. Her way of showing it just seems to be quite harsh. She wanted to have possession of some items in their house from her childhood, particularly the quilts hand-woven by her grandmother. Her mother did not want to give it to her because she thought that Dee would not have any use for it at all; she would probably just display them, unlike Maggie would really utilize those, aside also from the fact that her mother has already promised those quilts to Maggie for when she gets married.
Dee’s intention for wanting to posses those quilts was not to rob her sister of it, but rather to preserve it and its sentimental value to their family. Dee may seem to be harsh and selfish, but in reality she is just being tough to urge her mother and sister to maybe get out of their comfort zone and learn to progress and move away from the monotony of their lives in their old house, just as what she did. As her last message to Maggie, You ought to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It’s really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live, you’d never know it. (279)
Courtney from Study Moose
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