The Blaze of Life

Rebecca VanderKloot
Expository Writing
Section 1014
Paper 2
The Blaze of Life
Picture this, a young beautiful girl smiling and standing by a big gum tree. On the surface you might think this is a pleasant picture. But then you take a closer look. She is standing there looking at a fire, but not just any fire, it is a fire of her house. But not only is her house burning down, her mother and sister is also burning in the fire. Even though her family and house is burning down to the ground, we just see her standing there. She is just staring intently at the fire, not doing anything and not being panicked at all. Somehow this picture does not seem right. Should she not be screaming or crying or getting help?
In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use (For Your Grandma)”, this picture of the fire, is presented to us from a story told by the girls mother. This fire, along with Characterization, setting, and dialogue, lead one to believe that the fire was the start of the mother’s loss of power. And the beginning of Dee’s, the beautiful girl, rise to power. From the very beginning the story there is a sense that Dee has a bit of an “upper hand” in the family. But why does the mother and Dee’s sister Maggie cower to Dee? Why is what Dee thinks and wants so important?
In the beginning of the story, the mother describes Maggie as being not exceptionally beautiful. In fact, she is described as looking like a lame animal. She walks like she has been left on the side of the road, “. . .chin on chest, eyes on the ground, feet in shuffle…” (292-3). She even cowers in the corner when asking her mother how she looks for fear she does not look beautiful. On the hand, Dee is described as being very beautiful. The mother says that, “Dee is lighter then Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (293). So Maggie already feels that Dee is a little “above” her in the way of looks. But why does she cower behind Dee as if she is in Dee’s shadow?
In the story, the mother has a dream about reuniting with Dee. In her dream she thinks:
Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. (292)
The fire is mentioned to us before we even read the story of the fire. It is foreshadowing, to clue us in on the fact that the fire is a significant event. It is enough of an event to scar Maggie and her mother, in such a way that it would come out his clearly in the mother’s dream.
The way the story of the fire is told, is also a clue that it is an important event that caused dramatic results. The description of the fire is as follows:
Sometimes I can still hear the flames and feel Maggie’s arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black papery flakes. Her eyes seemed stretched open, blazed open by the flames reflected in them (293)
Maggie was obviously effected by this fire. But where was Dee?

If her mother and sister were both burning in the fire, how come Dee was not inside? According to the mother:
And Dee. I see her standing off under the gun tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red-hot chimney (293).
Dee was just standing there, watching her mother, sister and home burn down. She was not crying; she was not yelling for help; she was not doing anything. She was just standing there concentrating on the fire. The mother, in her mind, asks the question of Dee, “Why don’t you dance around the ashes?” (293). We get the sense that Dee is almost happy about the fire. It does not seem to effect her, except that she can now get a new house. As the mother