House on Fire
In “Everyday Use”, the mother explains Dee and how she thinks she’s too good for what happened. Dee was lighter than Maggie, she had nicer hair and a fuller figure. She was a woman and her mom sometimes forgot that. When the house burned down about 12 years ago (Walker Pg.345). The mom explains how she can see Maggie’s arms sticking to her, her hair smoking, and her dress falling off in little black papery flakes. As she glances over, she sees Dee standing off under the sweetgum tree she used to dig gum out of, a look of concentration on her face. She then asks Dee “Why won’t you do a dance around the ashes?” That’s how much Dee hated the house (Walker Pg.345). This explains how Dee felt that she was way better than what they had. They raised money to send her to Augusta school. She got to become full of knowledge and fill their heads with what she knew. She wanted nice things. Dee was the kid who got it all and felt better than how she was raised.
Maggie will be nervous until her sister leaves. She will stand in shame because of the scars down her arms in legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy. She’s having issues with the way she looks Maggie says, “In real life, I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man working hands”, she is shaming herself for not being able to look flawless and know the nature of booty (Walker Pg.345). She explains that she’s good at man work, but not at female work. She has tendencies to kill and clean hogs as a man. The structure of her being big-boned keeps her from being cold in the zero weather as she explains the ways she looks and how horrible she feels. ((Walker Pg.346). Maggie was left out in the story, it seemed that since she had been the one to discover the pain and heartache, she was looked at with shame. As the story goes on, you start to realize how much she doesn’t appreciate herself and how she’s afraid to even be around her sister. But the fact that she found someone who loved her for her which was John. The mother is also excited about Maggie marrying John and her being able to sing hymns.
As Dee arrives, Maggie attempts to dash into the house. The glimpse of her feet was always neat as if God himself shaped them with a certain style. Dee and her boyfriend arrive and that’s when Maggie sucks in her breath and says “ Uhnnh” (Walker Pg.347). Dee’s mother doesn’t approve of the boyfriend and his appearance and doesn’t like what Dee’s appearance looks like either. Dee then gets a camera and snaps a few pictures of Maggie and her mama. Dee’s boyfriend then tries to shake Maggie’s hand and she refuses (Walker Pg.348). The mother then tries to pronounce Dee’s new name, in fact, she can barely pronounce (Walker Pg.348). Dee then tells her mom she doesn’t have to call her that, but the mother insists that she will call her that. In this story, it has plenty of allegory with two parallel and one consistent level of meaning. Throughout the remainder of the story, Dee has this sense that she wants to be like her heritage and not just what her mama thinks. She rather takes it upon herself to be what she wants and doesn’t care how anyone else feels about that. She states that “ She’s dead “, which she’s saying that Dee no longer exists and that was the name that oppressed her. She rather stick with her heritage (Walker Pg.348).
The End of the Story
In conclusion to this story, Dee wants to get in touch with her African side of the family. But in doing so in the meantime, she ignores the fact that her mom has other ways of doing so. Dee wants to showcase the African heritage and show it off which is why she changed her name to Wangero. At the end of the story, Dee says “You ought to try to make something out 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 (Walker Pg.352).” She is saying that even though they have a different lifestyle than her, they should make the best of what they have and even better. Dee’s style of living is symbolic of her culture. For Maggie and her mother, they are living in the real experience.