How does Walker convey the idea of detachment from culture and family in “Everyday Use”?
In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker depicts a cultural conflict with a family; how Dee becomes detached from not only he family but also from their beliefs and African American culture. The division of education further detaches Dee from her family and Culture and what Dee perceives as heritage and the act of changing her name all play a central role in alienating Dee from her family and her culture.
To begin with, Mama struggled to send Dee to a good school, yet this determination to have Dee educated, as can be seen “But that was before we raised money, the church and me, to send her to Augusta to school”, only created a rift between the family. This is accentuated by the fact that Mama was denied an education because her school closed down. “After 2nd grade the school closed down.” Dee was fortunate that Mama gave her the opportunity, but her superior intellect serves only to detach her from her mother and her sister. Dee uses her intellect to patronize and almost intimidate others. As a child Dee read to her mother and sister “Without pity, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand.” This clearly conveys how Dee was so detached from her family. She “shoves them away” when they are about to reach the same level of understanding as she does. Dee would sever any possible connection between her family, just as easily as a plug from a wall.
When Dee comes back from school when she is older she greets her mother by saying “Wasuzo-Teano” a greeting her mother does not understand, and Dee knows this. Her education creates a language barrier and this further conveys how detached Dee is from her family. Adding to the effect, Dee announces that she no longer goes by the name Dee, but now identifies herself as Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, which is about as far as the human tongue can get from “Dee Johnson”. When her mother inquires as to her reasons...