Mama is portrayed as one of the important characters in Everyday Use. In many instances in the story, she helps to bring out the numerous themes and other literary aspects. Through interactions with her two daughters, we are able to know more about other characters in the story. Throughout the story, the author depicts the true nature of Mama. Therefore, the significant role that she plays cannot be ignored.
Mama describes herself as a woman with rough hands resulting from physical labor. She also describes herself as a big-boned woman who wears overalls and acts as the mother and father of her daughters. She never had the opportunity to get away from her rural life due to poverty and lack of education. The author portrays her as a loving mother, with openness and speaking frankly; this prevents her from deceiving her with regard to the weaknesses of her daughters. With a strong understanding of her traditions, Mama would not allow Dee to take the family quilts (Walker & Christian 36).
Mama portrays some historical events and social issues. In her narration, she portrays children who excel in life as holding a central and influential position in society and their homes. Mama talks of how parents embrace successful children. The mother says “On TV, mother and child embrace and smile into each other’s faces” (Walker & Christian 24). This portrays a historical issue based on the fact that parents regard their successful children with a lot of love. Alice Walker reveals the character as a survivalist; she talks the truth about everything. From the description of her background to the descriptions of her daughters, the mother talks openly. For example, she describes Maggie as a lame animal and likens her to a dog run over by a car.
Mama reveals the numerous disparities that can be experienced when some children excel more than others. For example, she says that she will wait for Dee in the yard that she and Maggie made clean. This shows how much the mother respects Dee. This shows that parents love their successful children to the extent that they prepare in advance for their homecoming (Walker & Christian 24). This may be a common phenomenon, whereby children who have achieved win the love of their parents unlike those who have not achieved. Further, Mama portrays the gap between successful and unsuccessful child; she points out that Maggie will be ashamed as long as her sister stays with them.
In the story, Mama helps to highlight ways of life and some traditions and heritage. In her interactions with Dee, Mama portrays the varying interpretations of traditions. For Maggie and her mother, traditions entail ways of thinking as well as inherited objects. On the other hand, Dee considers traditions to have no significance in everyday use since history corrupts them. As one of the central characters in the story, Mama brings out several themes. One of these themes includes dream vs. reality (Walker & Christian33). At the beginning of the story, the mother fantasizes about the relationship she would wish to have with Dee. She talks of TV shows, where parents confront their successful children as surprises. In reality, the mother wants to have a close relationship with Dee since she expects the daughter to be grateful because she has educated her. Therefore, Mama brings out the themes in the story, through her interactions with other characters.
Walker, Alice & Christian, Barbara. Everyday Use.USA, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994. Print.