African American Heritage In Alice Walker's 'Everyday Use'

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In the 1970s, many African Americans tried to find their roots in order to understand their families’ background. In her short story, “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker chronicles the expectations of the African American tradition through the uneducated narration of Mrs. Johnson, the mother of Dee and Maggie. Dee and Maggie Johnson are sisters who have been raised separately and have distinctly individual appreciations of their heritage. Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” conveys heritage and different points of view about one’s roots through the contrasting sisters, Dee and Maggie; however, Walker most effectively presents the importance of keeping traditional customs to stay true to oneself. Walker highlights the theme of heritage through detail and irony with the help of the character Dee. Dee wears “bracelets dangling and making noises…The dress is loose and flows…” (Walker 4). Walker utilizes detail to further illustrate Dee’s metamorphosis. For example, Dee’s African dress highlights how she is trying to connect with her heritage on an extreme level. By dressing according to her culture, Dee is connecting on a deeper note by changing her outward…show more content…
Walker contrasts Dee and Maggie through physical appearances, “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and fuller figure. She’s a woman now, though sometimes I forget,” (2). Walker contrasts the sisters’ physical appearances to signify that Maggie is inferior to Dee. She does this to stress the sisters’ distinct childhoods, which ironically forms their incongruous viewpoints of their family legacy. Walker convinces us that Dee is the superior sister. However, in reality, Maggie has the genuine view of her heritage. Therefore, when the sisters’ views of heritage are introduced, it is ironic that of the two, Maggie is the one that possesses the pure alignment to her

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