In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," the mother recalls an event from Dee's childhood when she thinks about her. The event was when the family's house burned down and Dee watched it burn while standing next to her mother. The mother remembers the event vividly and describes it as follows: "I was standing there in front of the ruins when [Dee] appeared out of nowhere, in her flowing dress, her hair standing up on her head like electric wires." The mother also remembers Dee's behavior during the event, stating that she had "a look of concentration on her face" and "made funny noises and talked to herself" while watching the house burn.
This event represents a turning point in Dee's life and her relationship with her family. After the fire, Dee became distant from her family and changed her name to "Wangero," rejecting her family's history and heritage. The mother's memory of the fire and Dee's reaction to it highlights the different ways in which Dee and the mother view their family's past. For Dee, the fire and the destruction of the family's home symbolize the need to reject the past and embrace a new identity. For the mother, the fire is a painful reminder of the family's history and the importance of preserving it.
In "Everyday Use," Alice Walker employs the technique of ambiguity in several places throughout the story. For example, in the description of Dee's appearance during the fire, the mother's language is ambiguous, as she describes Dee's hair as "standing up on her head like electric wires." This description is ambiguous because it can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, it could be seen as a sign of Dee's rebelliousness and desire to stand out. On the other hand, it could be interpreted as a symbol of Dee's connection to her African heritage, as electric wires are often used as a symbol of energy and vitality in African cultures.
Another example of ambiguity in the story is the description of Dee's new name, "Wangero." The name is ambiguous because it is unclear what it means or where it comes from. This ambiguity highlights the distance between Dee and her family, as well as the different ways in which they view their heritage. While Dee sees her new name as a symbol of her connection to her African roots, her family sees it as a rejection of their history and a sign of Dee's desire to distance herself from them.
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