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Alice’s Short Story “Daily Uses”

  ”Daily Uses” is one of the best short stories written by Alice Walker, an American black female writer in the mid-20th century. The author has won three awards in the American book industry for his novel “The Color Purple” – the Pulitzer Prize for Literary Books, the National Book Award for Excellence, and the National Book Review Award.
  ”Daily Household” starts the story in the first person, and the language style continues Alice Walker’s usual popular humor and vivid writing. The plot of the novel is not complicated. It revolves around the eldest daughter “Di” who lives alone, and her boyfriend to visit her mother “Me” and the youngest daughter “Magee”, and ask the mother for the two grandmothers who planned to give McGee as a dowry. The central incident of the quilt, coupled with the interludes of past life fragments, vividly depicts the differences between the two daughters in appearance, personality and values, and more deeply reflects the mother and daughter’s attitude towards their own national cultural traditions and the living conditions of black women in the United States.
  
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  Although the positive character of the work seems to be the ugly and inferior daughter “Maggie” who stays by her mother’s side, but looking at the whole text, the independent and strong eldest daughter “Di” is undoubtedly more charming. First of all, Dee has a beautiful appearance that McGee doesn’t have, “Dee is whiter than McGee, has better hair and a fuller figure than McGee.” Also, “Dee likes to have nice clothes.” “Sixteen She’s got her own style and knows what’s fashionable.” Even the way Dee came to visit her mother and McGee on the day she was dressed—a dress in a garish color, gold earrings, bracelets, and a grotesque haircut—could have I can see that she is a girl who keeps up with the trend. Second, Dee is confident, bold, and strong-willed, in stark contrast to McGee’s inferiority complex. So, McGee “looked at her sister with admiration and awe in her eyes. She felt that her sister always took her destiny in her own hands, and the world had never learned to say ‘no’ to her sister.” Dee Not afraid of anyone, including unfamiliar white people, “she looks straight at anyone. It’s not in her nature to be hesitant.” And every time Dee asks her mother for beautiful clothes to dress herself up, she doesn’t back down. Things come against all odds, against all odds. She can stare at you for minutes without blinking.” Again, Dee is vain, selfish and acerbic, unsympathetic, and indifferent to family and loved ones. In real life, Di was always ashamed that her mother was a sturdy, good at physical work, a working woman with little education, and wished her mother a different look. When the shabby house the family lived in ten years ago was destroyed by fire, Dee was secretly happy that it had been destroyed because “she hated it so much.” Later, her mother raised money to send Dee to college at Augusta. Not only did she fully accept the culture of white people, she also often read white things to her mother and McGee when she came home, forcing them to accept the incomprehensible and even strongly contradicting things. Before Di came to visit her mother, she wrote to her mother, “No matter where we ‘choose’ to stay, she will try to see us. But she will not bring friends.” It can be seen that the poverty and shabbyness of the family make her shame. What’s more, when Dee finally came to visit her mother and McGee with her boyfriend, she actually claimed that she had changed her name, because the name has been repeatedly used by the family’s ancestors for generations since the Civil War. Dee was unbearable, and his mother saw it as a kind of honor for the continuation of the family.
  
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  McGee is the exact opposite of Dee in every way, and seems to be more pityed by his mother “I” for it. First of all, McGee is ugly and has scars on her limbs due to the fire ten years ago. She is always “chin on her chest, staring at the ground, walking dragging her feet”, she is an ugly duckling. Secondly, because of the defects in appearance, McGee’s extreme inferiority complex and timidity have been formed. When my sister and her boyfriend drove into view, “McGee limped into the house with a limping leg, I reached out to stop her, … Although she stopped, her big toe wanted to dig a well in the sand. “And “I” knew that “McGee will be squeamish until her sister is gone, and she will stand helpless in the corner, ashamed of her ugliness and burns on her limbs, looking at her sister There is envy and awe in his eyes.” Again, McGee is kind and gentle, simple and weak, and even resigned. “Sometimes McGee reads something to me. She stammered it nicely, but didn’t quite understand it. She knew she wasn’t smart. As well as beauty and money, tact didn’t bother her.” But McGee didn’t She felt it was unfair and she didn’t try to change anything. She thought it was fate and God’s arrangement. So she accompanies her mother to do laundry, cook and clean all day, like a young pheasant always hiding under her mother’s wings, trapping herself in a small house in the countryside, refusing all contact with the outside world . Yet due to her lack of knowledge, she is terrified of all things strange and powerful, and even her sister frightens her, not to mention Dee’s boyfriend – a strange man – when he wants to hug McGee out of courtesy At that time, McGee was trembling with fear and sweating. Contrary to her sister Di who “always takes her destiny in her own hands”, McGee is always resigned, preferring to watch what should belong to her being taken away by others rather than taking the initiative to fight for it. When her sister Dee finally confessed the purpose of the trip – asking her mother for the quilt that she planned to give to McGee as a dowry, McGee felt very sad, but she still timidly said softly, “Let her take it, Mom”, That look “as if she’s used to never getting anything or having nothing for her.”
  
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  Before answering this question, we must first clarify the central image mentioned in the second half of the work, that is, the focus of the conflict between the mother and daughter—what does the quilt left by the two grandmothers symbolize. “The two quilts were spliced ​​together by Di’s grandmother with small pieces of cloth, and then Di and I were stitched together on the quilt stand in the front hall.” The quilt read “Grandma Di wore it more than fifty years ago. Pieces of cloth from old clothes”, pieces of cloth from Grandpa Jarrell’s shirt, and pieces of blue cloth from the military uniform that Ezra’s great-grandfather wore during the Civil War. The two quilts were made up of Lone Star and Walking along the Mountain respectively. Obviously, these two quilts condense the wisdom of black working women and the history and vicissitudes of this family, and are a symbol of black cultural heritage. What the author wants to highlight through the characters of Dee and McGee is the two completely different attitudes towards his own national cultural tradition: Dee asked his mother for these two quilts in order to hang them up and treat them as folk art. To decorate the room; and my mother wished to give the quilts to McGee in the belief that McGee would use them as household items to realize their value. In fact, when Di went to college, “I” wanted to give her one of the quilts, but Di felt that the quilt was “too old and inappropriate”, so he didn’t accept it. This shows that Di lacks a sense of identity for his own cultural tradition in his bones. And now, after receiving the higher education and cultural values ​​of white people and living in the city for a while, Dee has turned around and took the initiative to ask “me” for those two quilts, even declaring them “priceless” and accusing ” Me” and McGee simply didn’t understand their value. Does this mean that after abandoning his own culture, Di has re-understood its value and thus achieved a cultural return? No, the point is that what Dee wants to use for these two quilts at the moment is – “hang them up”! Di did re-recognize the value of these two quilts, but she was standing on the standpoint of white people, starting from the cultural values ​​of white people, to appreciate these two quilts, that is, taking the cultural tradition of her own nation as the culture of others to examine. But McGee is different. She simply believes that the only purpose of the quilt is to use it as a household item and to commemorate her grandmother in this way. This is a kind of identification with the highest sense of self-culture, because it reaches the I, I have you, the two are one, without distinction. The real cultural tradition should be the way of life, the way of thinking and the state of existence that have been completely integrated into the individual life. It is concrete, not like Di, who abstracts his cultural heritage into works of art and puts them on the shelf. Arty show off. The mother finally snatched the quilt from Di’s arms,
  In addition, Alice Walker, as a feminist writer, reflects on the current way of life of black women in the United States in this work, and the two female images of Dee and McGee have become a communication at this time. Carriers of two very different lifestyles. Which one is the way of life advocated by author Alice Walker? It’s worth thinking about the words Dee left before leaving in a hurry – “McGee, you should try to make a difference too. We are indeed in a new era. But if you and your mother live like this, you will never be the same. I won’t understand.” Although at the end of the work, under the protection of his mother, McGee finally showed a bright and fearless smile, but we can still feel that the back of Di’s departure is tall. It can be seen from this that the author not only expresses his dominant views on black cultural traditions, but also faintly expresses a kind of sympathy for Di’s feminine charm in the process of actively changing his own destiny and realizing his self-worth. Appreciation. Perhaps the combination of McGee’s devotion to self-cultural traditions and Dee’s steadfast, fearless and open character is Alice Walker’s ideal of the perfect existence for African-American women.

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