The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use Essay

:: 4 Works Cited
Length: 988 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use  

Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," is a story about a poor, African-American family and a conflict about the word "heritage." In this short story, the word "heritage" has two meanings. One meaning for the word "heritage" represents family items, thoughts, and traditions passed down through the years. The other meaning for the word "heritage" represents the African-American culture.

There are three women in this short story, two sisters and their mother. One of the sisters is named Maggie and the other is named Dee. Maggie and her mother believe that the word "heritage" deals with their family?s traditions. These traditions are the only ones they have ever known and/or cared about. Dee, on the other hand, believes that "heritage" is about African culture, and she wants nothing to do with her family?s heritage until it is in style.

Throughout "Everyday Use," there are examples that show Maggie and her mother have knowledge about their family?s heritage. There are also examples that show Maggie and her mother cherish their family?s heritage and Dee does not. Next, there are examples that show Dee is not concerned with her family?s heritage until it becomes stylish. Finally, there are examples that show Dee embracing her African-American heritage instead of her family?s heritage.

The narrator of "Everyday Use" is the mother, and the story opens with Maggie and her mother waiting for Dee to arrive. The mother?s description of her family?s yard, "a yard like this is more comfortable than most people know" (Walker 1149), shows that she is happy and content with her current surroundings. This land is a part of their family?s heritage, and the mother is comfortable l...

... middle of paper ... heritage. So ironically, while Dee is looking for her African-American culture, and it lies right in front of her eyes. Her sister, mother, grandmother, and herself are all a part of their family?s heritage, which stems from the African-American heritage that Dee is so desperate to find.

Works Cited

Allen-Polley, Kathryn. "Dee?s Heritage." Ode to Friendship. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Virginia Wesleyan College, 1998.

Baker and Pierce-Baker, Houston and Charlotte. "Patches: Quilts and Community in Alice Walker?s ?Everyday Use.?" Alice Walker: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. Eds. Henry Louis Gates and K. A. Appiah. New York: Amistad , 1993.

Callahan, John. "Review of Love and Trouble." Short Story Criticism Vol. 5. (Essay date 1974).

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

This essay is 100% guaranteed.

Title Length Color Rating  
Heritage in Everyday Use, by Alice Walker Essay - Heritage is one of the most important factors that represents where a person came from. In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, this short story characterizes not only the symbolism of heritage, but also separates the difference between what heritage really means and what it may be portrayed as. Throughout the story, it reveals an African-American family living in small home and struggling financially. Dee is a well-educated woman who struggles to understand her family's heritage because she is embarrassed of her mother and sister, Mama and Maggie....   [tags: everyday use, alice walker]
:: 1 Works Cited
1063 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on What Heritage Really Means and What it May be Portrayed As - ... Dee misinterprets the essential meaning of the quilts and how they were created because of her understanding to the traditional African culture she became deeply influenced. However, these quilts were a representation of Dee’s significant family members, and they were meaningful to Mama and Maggie because they understood the importance of these quilts that were so carefully sown. “They had been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and me had hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them” (Walker 1129)....   [tags: heritage, alice walker, everyday use] 656 words
(1.9 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Symbolism in Alice Walker's Everyday Use Essay - Symbolism in Alice Walker's Everyday Use History in the Making Heritage is something that comes to or belongs to one by reason of birth. This may be the way it is defined in the dictionary, but everyone has their own beliefs and ideas of what shapes their heritage. In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, these different views are very evident by the way Dee (Wangero) and Mrs. Johnson (Mama) see the world and the discrepancy of who will inherit the family’s quilts. Symbolism such as certain objects, their front yard, and the different characters, are all used to represent the main theme that heritage is something to always be proud of....   [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use] 1557 words
(4.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Alice Walker's Everyday Use Essay examples - Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the author portrays opposing ideas about one’s heritage. Through the eyes of two daughters, Dee and Maggie, who have chosen to live their lives in very different manners, the reader can choose which character to identify most with by judging what is really important in one’s life. In Dee’s case, she goes out to make all that can of herself while leaving her past behind, in comparison to Maggie, who stays back with her roots and makes the most out of the surroundings that she has been placed in....   [tags: Alice Walker Everyday Use Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1644 words
(4.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Themes and Narration Techniques of Everyday Use by Alice Walker - The Themes and Narration Techniques of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker, was first published in 1973. The story opens as Maggie and her mother, a black farm woman, await a visit from Maggie's older sister, Dee, and a man who may be her husband--her mother is not sure whether they are actually married. Dee, who was always scornful of her family's way of life, has gone to college and now seems almost as distant as a film star. Maggie, who is not bright and who bears severe burn scars from a house fire many years before, is even more intimidated by her glamorous sibling....   [tags: Alice Walker's Everyday Use] 962 words
(2.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Defining African-American Heritage in Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay - In “,Everyday Use,”, Alice Walker tells a story of a mother’,s problematic relationship with her two daughters. At this side, “,Everyday Use”, tells that how a mother little by little refuses the cursory values of her older, successful daughter at the aspect of the practical values of her younger, less fortunate daughter. On a deeper side, Alice Walker looks for the concept of heritage and its norms as it applies to African-Americans. “,Everyday Use”, is set in the late ‘,60s or early ‘,70s. This was a time when African-Americans struggled to define their personal identities and values in their cultural terms....   [tags: Everyday Use Essays] 2907 words
(8.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Theme of Heritage in Everyday Use - Everyday Use In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, two sisters portray their contrasting family views on what they perceive to be heritage. The idea that a quilt is a part of a family's history is what the narrator is trying to point out. They aren't just parts of cloth put together to make a blanket. The quilt represents their ancestors' lives and tells a story with each individual stitch. "They had been pieced my Grandma Dee and Big Dee and me and hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them....   [tags: Alice Walker] 924 words
(2.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Everday Use: African-American Heritage - "Everyday Use:" African-American Heritage Everyone is raised within a culture with a set of customs and morals handed down by those generations before us. As individuals, we view and experience heritage in different ways. During history, different ethnic groups have struggled with finding their place within society. In the 1950s and 60s African Americans faced a great deal of political and social discrimination based on the tone of their skin. After the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, many African Americans no longer wanted to be identified by their African American lifestyle, so they began to practice African culture by taking on "Afro hairdos, African-influenced clothing, and adoptio...   [tags: Alice Walker] 1155 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Everyday Use by Alice Walker Essay - Everyday Use by Alice Walker Heritage is an important factor to every developing family. Heritage helps to develop a person's values showing what they believe in. Particularly about the values of their family. In the story Everyday Use, by Alice Walker, value of heritage is a main topic. Throughout this story there are many different words used to describe what Wangero (Dee), Maggie, and their mother value. These choices of words all play an important role in the contrasting values of these people and the battle over heritage....   [tags: Family Heritage Literature Essays] 872 words
(2.5 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
The Use of Heritage in Everyday Use and A Pair of Tickets Essay - The Use of Heritage in Everyday Use and A Pair of Tickets A key factor in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” and Amy Tan’s “A Pair of Tickets,” is heritage. Throughout both stories the use of heritage can be seen easily. Walker’s avoidance of heritage in her writings and Tan’s understanding of heritage in her writing. Through this readers can see the true meaning of heritage. Understanding both sides of these two stories gives readers a chance to explore their own heritage and reflect on how they accept their past....   [tags: Alice Walker Amy Tan Papers]
:: 3 Works Cited
1509 words
(4.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]