Maggie Character Analysis from “Everyday Use”

Have you ever noticed how some people just stand out from the crowd? Like the clouds in the sky and blades of grass, people are all different.

“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker has a good example of an interesting, unique character. Maggie is a young girl who is not only physically but also mentally scarred. The way the burning house, her stuck-up sister, and society affects Maggie makes her different from everyone else. Maggie was so traumatized from her house burning down that she became a timid and under appreciated little girl.

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Maggie is so self conscious that her mom says she walks like a dog run over by a car: “chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground. ” This shows that Maggie’s lack of self-confidence makes her scared to make eye contact.

She thinks that if she cannot see the people around her, then they cannot see her. In addition, Maggie’s noticeable scars have an effect on the way she carries herself. According to Mama, when she was pulling Maggie out of the fire, her arms were sticking to her, “her hair was smoking, and her dress was falling off her in little black papery flakes. This is significant because it shows how much the fire actually physically scarred her. This fact also explains why she is so afraid of people seeing her. Maggie’s evident abridgement of assurance in herself is caused mostly by the fire.

The barbaric way Maggie’s sister, Dee, presents herself has a bad effect on Maggie’s confidence. When Dee asked Mama if she can have some special quilts and Mama says no because she was going to give them to Maggie, Dee says, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!

She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use. ” Dee is making Maggie look very unappreciative of the quilts even though she wanted them for a deeper meaning: to remember her grandma. Maggie was so afraid of how Dee would react that she told her she could have the quilts since she is never used to anything going her way. Not only that, but Maggie’s reaction for Dee’s demand for the quilt demonstrates that she is angry about Dee’s domineering attitude.

When she heard Dee’s request, she slammed the door and stormed out of the kitchen.

This shows that Dee’s arrogance left a negative influence on Maggie’s personality. It’s almost like Dee is trying to take away any happiness life throws out at Maggie. Although Maggie was deformed and neglected, it should not mitigate her need for joy in her life. Alice Walker juxtaposes Maggie with her sister, Dee, to demonstrate how society denigrates not only African-American women but women in general in the 1970s. Early on in the story, Maggie is described as nervous, hopelessly standing in the corner.

Later she is described as nearly hidden from view. On a metaphorical level, Maggie is the symbol of the lack of power women held in the 1970s. She is the epitome of the silent female homemaker. On the other hand, Dee is assertive, “will look you right in the eye. ” She serves as a symbol of the free, successful modern woman.

However, her assertiveness might come off as cockiness, and too much pride. By contrasting Maggie and Dee, Alice Walker is expressing both sides of the female role during that time.

All in all, Maggie is a very distinctive character. Her house burning to the ground, her arrogant sister, and the effect society has on her explains that. Alice Walker has a very interesting way of putting together two opposites to make one of their personalities very clear; Maggie’s persona would be especially vague if that opposing character was not included in the story. Even though Maggie gives a shy first impression, her personality could really shine if you read between the lines.