Everyday Use

Alice Walker

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
2. Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? This is the way my Maggie walks. . . . She knows she is not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passes her by.

Mama narrates these words as Maggie joins her in the yard to wait for Dee. In this brief quotation she bluntly characterizes Maggie as a pathetic figure who shows the effects of her sheltered life and disfigurement. Maggie’s crushed spirit and withering, withdrawn nature disappoint Mama, but she ultimately chooses Maggie’s simplicity and faithfulness over Dee’s shallow selfishness. Mama feels she is the protector of one daughter and the victim of the other. She dreams of the impending marriage that will relieve her of the burden of Maggie and leave her to a quiet life. On one hand, Mama’s brutal honesty and lack of illusions seem closely connected to her strength. At the same time, Mama’s honesty is also harsh. It dramatizes the subtle yet deep gulf that exists between Mama and her daughters. Whereas Dee represents a world of extreme change, Maggie relentlessly stays the same, an all-too-present reminder of the inequities of the past and present.