“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a personal narration of a mother who has two daughters. The first daughter, Dee, is obsessed with her African heritage, and she has even changed her name to Wangero, an African name. She is educated, and she lives in the city with her boyfriend. However, the second daughter is Maggie, who has been unfortunate from her childhood, and she even got burnt at an early age. Maggie is well acquainted with her ancestry, and she recalls their relatives by names. Additionally, she is a shy lady, and she lives with her mother in a rural suburb. Even though the story is a personal narration of Mama, the main antagonist is Dee because she acquires modern education and lifestyle, she is incapable of appreciating the quilts, and she abandons her African family.
Dee acquires modern education and lifestyle to rule over her mother and sister, Maggie. Mama and Maggie are illiterate because they never went to school to attain formal education. Dee, however, attended school and gained the modern. Usually, people attend schools to become knowledgeable and uplift the standards of their family members. However, Dee has a different opinion because her main reason for attending the school was to rule over her family members. Additionally, she views the kind of life her mother is living as archaic and old-fashioned. Dee believes that a perfect life can only be achieved by having a modern life. She, therefore, condescends to Mama and Maggie, who are resistant to her new way of life.
Additionally, Dee is the antagonist in the story because she is incapable of appreciating the quilts. The quilts are traditional, and they are essential to the family. Additionally, they were made by one of the family members, and they perform specific functions. They were delegated to Maggie because she could use them for their intended functions. However, Dee wants the quilts allocated to Maggie because she wants them for display, contrary to the roles they were made for. Dee’s incapability to appreciate quilts shows her dissociation with her African history. Although she knows the importance of the quilts made by her ancestors, she wants to take them to the city and display them as trophies.
Finally, Dee displays antagonist behavior when she abandons her African family. Dee traces her route to Africa; she even changes her name to Wangero, an African name. Dee claims that she is fighting for African rights in a society that still views Africans as slaves, and this is demonstrated through the roles Mama plays to feed herself and Maggie. However, Dee disassociates with her African family; she doesn’t even recall her grandparents, whom she is named after. Her style of dress code shows complete contrast with her statements. Her claim of associating with the African culture is simply superficial.
Succinctly, Dee is the antagonist in the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. She acquires modern education to rule over her family members, whom she view as backward because they live in the rural areas and cling to their ancestry. She is also incapable of appreciating the quilts, and instead, she wants to take them from Maggie and display them as trophies. Moreover, Dee claims to be associated with her African heritage, and she even changes her name to an African name. However, her actions demonstrate contrast because she forsakes her immediate African family and her ancestry. Therefore, Dee becomes the primary antagonist in this short story.