Alice Walker Heritage

1287 Words6 Pages
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” is a short story about an African-American family each having different views on their heritage and tradition. The main conflict is between Mama and one of her daughters Dee regarding who should get the quilt. For Dee, heritage is something to put on display to show others who she is. Dee wants the quilt just for personal use as a decoration and her sister Maggie wants the quilt because it is her most prize possession. Dee creates a new heritage for herself and excludes the one in which she was born. The short story takes place in a poor area of Georgia in the 1970s and starts with Mama and her youngest daughter, Maggie, waiting for Dee to come home. The narrator of the story is Mama, a large big boned woman…show more content…
While they are eating, Dee notices the benches they were sitting on and runs her hands along them as if she is truly fascinated by them. She jumped up from the table and went in the corner where the churn stood and looked at it. Dee asks Mama for the dasher and churn top. Maggie begins explaining the history of who in their family made the dasher and churn top but Dee doesn’t show any interest and jokes, “Maggie’s brain is like an elephant’s, I can use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table and I’ll think of something artistic to do with the dasher.”(Walker 466). Dee acts as if she’s going to take the churn top and dasher to display it as if it belongs in an art gallery. After dinner Dee went to the trunk at the foot of Mama’s bed and went through it. She finds two quilts that were patched by Grandma Dee. Both quilts have a significant meaning behind them and Dee asks Mama can she have them. The quilt symbolizes the family's heritage. Several generations of the family have contributed to the making it. Each piece represents a story of that family member. Mama offers Dee one or two of the others and Dee declines her offer because they are stitched around the borders by machine. Mama tells Dee that she promised Maggie the quilts which causes Dee anger. “You don’t understand…your heritage” (Walker 468). Mama offered Dee the same quilts when she left for college and she turned her nose up at them, calling them "old-fashioned, out of style. (Walker 467). David Cowart states that Dee seems to think the African American past can be rescued only by being commodified. She wants to make the lid of the butter churn into a centerpiece for her table. She wants to hang quilts on the wall. She wants, in short, to do what white people do with the cunning and quaint implements and products of the past. Dee fails to

More about Alice Walker Heritage

Open Document