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The Importance of Learning One's Own Culture Essay

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Alice Walker writes about the importance of culture and about the acceptance of where people have come from in her short story, “Everyday Use.” There are three main characters in the story, all of whom has her own personal traits and views on how to deal with her life and deciding what is most important to her. The significance of this story is vast, from the value of culture, to the characteristics of each person. Walker describes the way each character’s attitude reflects on her culture. The three main characters include the mother, who is also the narrator, and her daughters, Dee and Maggie. Each very different from the other, at times the personalities clash and there is always a tense atmosphere when the three are in each other’s presence. Even though Maggie and the narrator are similar in a lot of ways, the narrator feels pity for Maggie when she is described, which personifies the narrator as being much stronger than Maggie. They are the two who get along the best and understand each other the most and they both understand the meaning and value of culture, and appreciate it more than Dee does. Of course, the narrator loves both of her daughters, but it seems as though she favors Maggie over Dee for many reasons. The mother is telling this story and she describes everyone the way she sees her, even herself. She is not afraid to be honest.
The narrator describes herself as “big-boned.” She is simple and is very content with the way she is. She knows the importance of her culture and heritage and benefits off the usefulness of the lessons and substantial objects that has been passed on to her from her family. She has inherited many customs and traditions as well as objects, but favors them and uses them in an unsophisticated ...


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...els as though her mother favors Dee over her since Dee is getting an education, but her mother loves them both equally. Maggie may not look the best or feel completely secure about her appearance, but she knows what is important; where she has come from and her family and knows that the objects being passed on to her can be put to everyday use.
Through the characters and the importance of the quilt, Walker demonstrates that one’s culture is not about “fitting in” or speaking in a different language, but rather that one’s culture, traditions, and heritage are taught from generation to generation and it is not something that can be acquired over night or with practice. This story proves that by learning of one’s own culture and grasping the significance of it, it can not only build one’s knowledge of the history behind the traditions, it can be used for everyday life.


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