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Florida Southwestern State College Girl & Everyday Use Story Essay

Florida Southwestern State College Girl & Everyday Use Story Essay

Question Description

This assignment is aligned with the following outcomes:

MO 4.2 Analyze literary works’ exploration of the human condition and the ethical and cultural problems of the time, and consider how such issues continue to resonate in the contemporary world.

MO 4.3 Evaluate and interpret literary works from ethical, social, cultural, historical, philosophical, artistic, and/or biographical perspectives.

MO 4.7 Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively.

MO 4.8 Demonstrate the ability to analyze communication critically.

Choose one of these prompts for your journal entry. Requirements are at the end of this page.

I chose prompt 1:

Two stories that we read relating to the mother daughter relationship show how the mothers’ cultural values and historical context contribute to the conflicts between the mother and the girl in “Girl” and the mother and Dee in “Everyday Use.” For your journal entry on this topic discuss, specifically how these two stories illustrate how the daughters’ identities are defined, in part, by their mothers’ cultural values and views.


  • Write an original journal entry that answers the prompt in no less than 200 words.
  • Make sure you have a clearly stated thesis and that your posting defends this thesis.
  • You also need to include at least two references to research to support your opinions.

“Everyday Use Summary”

As she waits for Dee, Mama looks around the yard and at Maggie, triggering memories of Dee’s troubled childhood in their house—her anger towards her family and their poverty, her hunger for higher quality clothes and an education, her charisma, assertiveness, and her beauty. Mama thinks about how Dee’s attitude towards them changed as she became educated thanks to money from Mama and the Church, turning her from hateful to hurtfully condescending. As she remembers Dee as a child, Mama contrasts her with Maggie—a diffident, kind, homely young woman with a scar on her face from the house fire. Mama recounts the traumatizing fire, which burnt down their home, and forced them to build a new one, exactly like it, where they now live.

At last Dee and her partner, Hakim-a-Barber, arrive at the house. Dee is dressed in a beautiful, colorful, floor-length dress in African style. She introduces herself as “Wangero,” not as Dee, stating that she changed her name so she would not be named after her “oppressors.” Mama is originally skeptical of both these choices, but decides that she likes the dress. Mama reminds Dee that she is, in fact, named after her aunt Dicie, but agrees to call Dee by her chosen name.

Dee takes pictures of her family with their house. She and Hakim-a-Barber eat with Mama and Maggie, and while Hakim-a-Barber is unenthusiastic about the family’s fare, Dee enjoys the collard greens and pork with relish. Dee, who, as Mama mentioned, once disdained the family’s possessions, now unexpectedly covets them. She admires the worn stools, coos over her grandmother’s butter dish, and demands to be given the top of the family’s butter churn to use as decoration in her house. Mama acquiesces, and gives Dee the churn.

After dinner, Dee insists on taking home her grandmother’s quilts as well, to hang on her walls. Mama, however, had planned on giving the quilts to Maggie. When Mama refuses, saying that she promised them to Maggie, Dee becomes angry. She insists that Maggie cannot appreciate the quilts, and will wear them out with “everyday use.” When Mama brushes Dee’s anger off, saying that Maggie can simply make new quilts since she knows how to sew, Dee insists that the quilts are “priceless” and that Mama does not “understand” her heritage. Still, Mama refuses to give Dee the quilts, and dumps them on Maggie’s lap. The story ends with Dee’s departure, leaving Mama and Maggie alone together in the house.


Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don’t walk bare-head in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil; soak your little cloths right after you take them off; when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn’t have gum in it, because that way it won’t hold up well after a wash; soak salt fish overnight before you cook it; is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?; always eat your food in such a way that it won’t turn someone else’s stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming; don’t sing benna in Sunday school; you mustn’t speak to wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions; don’t eat fruits on the street—flies will follow you; but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school; this is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming; this is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt so that it doesn’t have a crease; this is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease; this is how you grow okra—far from the house, because okra tree harbors red ants; when you are growing dasheen, make sure it gets plenty of water or else it makes your throat itch when you are eating it; this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know; don’t pick people’s flowers—you might catch something; don’t throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all; this is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child; this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don’t like, and that way something bad won’t fall on you; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man, and if this doesn’t work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don’t feel too bad about giving up; this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn’t fall on you; this is how to make ends meet; always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh; but what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread? ?

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