Everyday Use

Everyday Use Summary and Analysis II

Dee has arrived in the yard by car. Maggie tries to run back into the house, but Mama stops her. Though it is bright from the sun, Dee is dressed in a long and flowing dress of yellow and orange colors. In addition to her loud outfit, she has on many bracelets and a pair of dangly gold earrings. Her hair stands up straight like sheep’s wool, and Dee has wrapped two pigtails around her head like “small lizards disappearing behind her ears.” Dee is accompanied by a short stocky man with long hair and a beard stretching down from his chin like a “kinky mule tail.” He calls out “Asalamalakim!” and tries to greet Maggie, who recoils. Dee turns to get a Polaroid camera, and takes many shots of Mama and Maggie in front of the house. Only after she puts the camera back in the car does she come to kiss her mother. When Mama tries to greet Dee by her name, she is corrected by her older daughter that “Dee” is dead. Dee has renamed herself “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo,” rejecting what she sees as being named after her oppressors. Mama does not understand, as Dee was named after Mama’s own sister Dicie. The name is also Mama’s mother’s name, and has been brought down from generations dating back beyond the Civil War. Mama agrees to call her Wangero, though it takes some practice before she gets it right. The man’s name is much too complicated, however, and Mama settles for calling him Hakim-a-Barber.