African-American Culture In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Most families have some type of heirloom, whether it be jewelry, furniture, or other symbolic keepsake that is passed down through each generation. These items are reminders of where our families came from. In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the family treasures are the handmade quilts. In “Everyday Use” each character symbolizes a different attitude towards African-American heritage. The story was set in presumably the late 60s. This was at a point in history where African-Americans were trying to create a new cultural identity. Mama represented older African-American culture. Dee a new portion of African-American culture. A culture that wants to reconnect with their African roots and stray away from their old heritage. Maggie represents the…show more content…
In the story, we learn that Dee is a selfish and materialistic person. From the beginning of her visit back home we see how self absorbed she is when instead of greeting her family she takes pictures of the house and of her mother. Along with that she is dressed excessively. Walker writes, "Dee wanted nice things. A yellow organdy dress to wear to her graduation from high school" (487). Following that, when Dee came to visit she was dressed excessively as told by Mama, "A dress down to the ground, in this hot weather. A dress so loud it hurts my eyes. There are yellows and oranges enough to throw back the light of the sun I fell my whole face warming from the heat waves it throws out. Earrings, too, gold and hanging down from her shoulders. Bracelets dangling and making noises when she moves her arm to shake the folds of the dress out of her armpits." (488). She 's more occupied with her aesthetic appearance rather than the usefulness of the…show more content…
Mama asks, "What happened to Dee?"(488) Mama gets her answer. Dee makes her point by saying, "She 's dead." She explains that she is no longer defined by her previous identify as Dee. "I couldn 't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me."(488). Mama is bothered by this because Dee was named after her Aunt Dicie, who was named after her grandma, who was named after her mother. Dee has distanced herself even further from her family and heritage. She 's more focused on herself. She 's blindsided by the fact those possessions don’t have to do with who she was or who she 's becoming. When Dee goes to ask for the quilts she 's manipulative about it, "Mama," Wangero said sweet as a bird. "Can I have these old quilts?" (490) When she learns that Mama has been saving them for Maggie she 's outraged and explains that Maggie couldn 't appreciate the quilts, she 'd use them for what they were actually intended for. It 's ironic that Dee is asking Mama for the quilts since she before declined them. "I didn 't want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old-fashioned, out of style."(490). Dee’s temper rises and claims that the quilts are priceless, seeing them as works of art whereas Mama sees them as practical value. It 's again mentioned that Maggie would use them for their true intent. "Maggie would put them on the bed in

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