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The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

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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...


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...ly?s 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.

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