Alice Walker Heritage

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Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”, is a story about a poor, African-American family who has conflicting views over the meaning of heritage. Most families usually have some sort of heirloom whether it be a piece of furniture, jewelry, or collectible that is passed down from generation to generation. This heirloom is a part of their heritage. In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, Dee, the main character, suppresses the value of her heritage. Heritage is one of the most important factors that represent where a person came from. “Everyday Use” not only characterizes the symbolism of heritage, but also separates the difference between what heritage really means and what it may be portrayed as. “The story, narrated by the mother, begins as she…show more content…
Mama views Dee as “lighter with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (Walker 744). Dee is strong, sure of herself, and has her own style, has big goals set and eventually is sent off to college. “Yet Dee has returned. And Mama is mistaken about how Dee will react when she arrives” (Claudia 448). When Dee arrives at the family home, Maggie and Mama are surprised to see Dee accompanied with a “with a short, stocky man with hair all over his head a foot long, hanging from his chin like a kinky mule tail” (Walker 745). Dee is dressed in bright colors and her hair “stands straight up like the wool on a sheep” (Walker 746). Maggie and Mama are presented with an additional shock when Dee announces that she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. When questioned she states she couldn’t bare being named after the people who oppressed her and Mama states that she was named after her aunt Dicie. Dees new name, Wangero, appears to be more culturally acceptable. The name Wangero more than likely is a traditional African name. Dee wants to forget her family’s oppressed past and delve into their roots. “What Dee has is some type of infatuation” (Answering). What Dee once shunned, she has now found a new appreciation…show more content…
Dee ask for the quilts and Maggie shows her anger for Dees request by creating disruptive noise in the other room; “something falls in the kitchen, and a minute later the kitchen door slammed” (Walker 748). These noises are Maggie’s way of voicing her opinion regarding the quilt. Mama suggest that Dee takes different quilts but Dee wants authentic, hand- stitched quilts that her grandmother made from old dresses. Dee wanted to own another piece of her history to flaunt to her friends in her home. Mama tells Dee “the truth is, I said, I promised to give them quilts to Maggie, for when she marries John Thomas” (Walker 748). Dee becomes angry; “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts! She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use” (Walker 748). Mama states her desire for Maggie to do just that and reminds Dee of a time when she had once offered the same quilts to her before she left for college and she stated they were “old-fashioned and out of style” (Walker 748). Dee desperately wants these particular quilts only because they are in style at the moment and Dee is used to getting what she wants. As Dee and Mama argue Maggie reappears and tries to suggest giving the quilt to Dee anyways but Mama stays firm on her decision. Where once Mama would give into Dee she now refuses and

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