Heritage In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

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First published in 1973 as part of Alice Walker's short story collection, In Love and Trouble, “Everyday Use” is one of the more widely anthologized stories. In “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker shares her story of Mrs. Johnson’s conflicted relationship between her two daughters Dee and Maggie. On the surface, “Everyday Use” explains how a mother progressively denies the one-dimensional values of her oldest, most successful daughter Dee. Instead, Mrs. Johnson starts to favor the more practical values of her younger, less fortunate daughter Maggie. The deeper meaning explored by Alice Walker is the concept of heritage and how it applies to African-Americans. This short story takes place when African-Americans were struggling to establish their personal identities in cultural terms. “Everyday Use” has a setting in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. During this time, African-Americans were striving to make a known individual out of themselves. With the civil rights movement underway, a new generation was occurring. Black had replaced the term Negro which had been removed from vocabulary. The terms “Black Power,” “Black Nationalism,” and “Black Pride” were becoming prevalent during this period. Many blacks wanted to rediscover their African roots, and were ready to reject and deny their American heritage, which was filled with misery and inequality. In…show more content…
Johnson notices something in Maggie that she had not noticed before. She understands that Dee has rejected both women and has a new sense of self. Mama sees a past in Maggie’s scarred hands that she should be honored of not embarrassed. All at once, Mrs. Johnson recognizes what daughter deservingly should own the quilts. She finally tells Dee that she may not have them, they belong to Maggie. In Alice Walker's Everyday Use by Nancy Tuten, it is significant because when Mama gives the quilts to Maggie it is an establishment of sisterhood created between mama and Maggie

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