Black American Heritage In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

analytical Essay
700 words
700 words

Not many people know their family’s heritage. Matters such as where their ancestors come from or what trials he or she went through are typically lost in the hands of time if not kept in check by members of the family. In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” that is not the case of Mama, the narrator of the story. However, for her elder daughter, Dee, it is, nor does she particularly care to know. Dee is a woman who does everything in the name of her style. One aspect that is clear she does not think is part of her style is her family’s meager lifestyle. In fact, it is safe to say that Dee has an inability to understand the meaning of ‘heritage’. First, early on, Dee rejected her black American heritage. A significant event that Mama constantly mentions is when the house burned down ten to twelve years prior. She takes note of Dee’s face when it occurred, and how she had “a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall […]” (1011). The expression on her face was so strange that Mama was nearly compelled to ask Dee if she wanted to dance in the ashes, to celebrate the house that she hated so much burned to the ground. …show more content…

As she visits with Hakim-a-barber, she takes pictures of the house as if she is at a tourist attraction and comments about various household items as if they suddenly interest her. Despite all that, her motives remain purely for aesthetical purposes and to show how she has risen above all of it. Items that she wishes to take such as the butter churn, which in fact is still being used by Mama and Maggie, and the quilts that Mama has tucked in a trunk at the foot of her bed, would merely gather dust in parts of Dee’s home. When she is told that she cannot have the quilts by Mama, Dee practically storms out of the house, telling her that she just does not understand her heritage. Perhaps that is true, but it is more so true on Dee’s

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the narrator of alice walker's "everyday use" doesn't know about her elder daughter, dee, who does everything in the name of her style.
  • Narrates how dee rejected her black american heritage early on. mama took note of her face when the house burned down ten to twelve years prior, and asked her if she wanted to dance in the ashes.
  • Analyzes how dee shows a false acceptance of african/islamic heritage when visiting mama and her sister, maggie.
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