The Characterization of Dee in Alice Walker’s Everyday Use

The process of characterization is that which every author uses to make, build, or create a character. In most cases this process is carried out in three ways: 1) the author has the character say things that tell us what kind of person he or she is, 2) the author has the character do things that reveal what sort of person we are reading about (or hearing, or seeing), and 3) the author also often has other people reveal things about the character (the closer to the person another character is the better—more reliable—is the information).

First, use the following title: (but put nothing in bold–I use bold here only for emphasis)

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The Characterization of Dee in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”

Your thesis—the final sentence in your first paragraph—must be something like the following:

In “Everyday Use,” Dee is characterized by what she does, what she says, and what others say about her.

or

In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” Dee is characterized by what she does, what she says, and what others say about her.

Your next three topic sentences—the first sentence in each of the next three paragraphs must be—(1) Dee is characterized by what she does. (2) Dee is further characterized by what she says. (3) Dee is also characterized by what others say about her. These must be the opening sentences of paragraphs two through four.

Your final paragraph—a conclusion—must begin with (one of the following) In conclusion, Finally, or In summary, or even another equally conspicuous and emphatic transition to a concluding statement/paragraph.

Clearly, what you have to do is fill in your paragraphs with the appropriate materials. In paragraph one you should introduce your topic in a general way, concluding with an explicit thesis. Your body, the three interior paragraphs, must provide adequate “proof” through particular instances—explicitly quoted from the text—that substantiate the assertion of the topic sentence. You must include explicit things the person says and does, as well as important things others say about the person in order to satisfy these requirements. Your conclusion must conclude. In other words, you must give no further support—the province of the interior paragraphs—the body of the essay. You must pull things together, remind the reader what you have attempted to do, and be certain to revisit the key words in your thesis—and title as well—(here at least—your character’s name and the word characterization).

If this essay seems fundamental, of course it is. The assignment is to remind you of the old standard five-paragraph essay format: tell them what you are going to tell them—tell them—then tell them what you told them. The instructor will then grade the essay and return it to you. Then you are to examine all marks and comments, communicate with the instructor if necessary, and rewrite the essay, submitting it for the second time. Both efforts will receive a grade: the second is actually somewhat more important than the first.

If you understand that this essay is on characterization . . . not on Dee, then you are on your way to a good paper with adequate focus.

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