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She sucked his money, his vitality, his personality from him.She did not reduce Rawdon to such a shell, but she played Delilah to his Samson.The Iphigenia clock, then, symbolizes the complete subordination of the Osbornes to money and social success.
Her mother is aware of this, saying that if she were to appear on television, she would be, as she describes in one of the important quotes from “Everyday Use”by Alice Walker, “the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake." In other words, because of her tradition of education in the modern (read as “white-influenced" world) Dee would find that her mother is does not fit what her education has taught her is attractive.Her knowledge is useful and grounded in her everyday tasks.She gives a summary of her farm-related accomplishments and brags of being able to kill a hog like a man and can cook and take care of the homestead.At the charade party Rebecca plays Clytemnestra, symbolic of her destruction first of Rawdon, second of Joseph.(Clytemnestra killed her husband, Agamemnon, when her lover's courage failed.) Rebecca is also called Circe, the siren who lured men to their death.Because the reader gets the sense that she is steeped in an educational tradition that emphasizes usefulness, she is at odds with the educational traditions of her daughter, Dee, who has been to school away from home.This tension between educational traditions is one of the main themes in “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker and is apparent after Dee’s mother details what she knows about (usually related to farm tasks) but when she discusses her daughter’s educational traditions, she speaks almost disdainfully, saying, “She used to read to us without pity, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice.In terms of this analysis and summary of themes in “Everyday Use” one should note that that these two ways of thinking about African American traditions create the tension in the short story and although there is no “correct" viewpoint about these traditions expressed, the set up of the story allows the reader to consider both sides.The plot of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker itsekf Even from the beginning of “Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, it is clear there is a tension between Dee and her family because of her outside education.She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know." To her mother, Dee’s knowledge is foreign and is tinged with an element of danger since it includes “lies" and “other folks’ habits" and worse yet, it makes her mother and sister, who have a different tradition of learning feel “ignorant and trapped" with knowledge that her mother feels is not necessary.In “Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, traditions based in learning extend far beyond ways of thinking about issues or objects, they also inform the way each character expresses her outer identity.