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Disrespect And Portrayal Essay In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

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Is the revival of an ancestor’s heritage worth it? In the short story “Everyday Use” Alice Walker describes a time Dee comes home to visit her family, her mom, and her sister, Maggie. When Dee arrives she quickly announces that she changed her name to reflect her African heritage. This sets up a struggle between Dee and her family over whose heritage more accurately describes them. During the struggle Dee’s mom realizes that she has a history of giving Dee everything she asks for at Maggie’s expense. During the conclusion of the story the Mom decided to stand up for Maggie and keep the quilts for her. Dee wanted to protect these quilts in order to pay homage to her heritage as well as keep them from being used everyday. Walker uses tone, diction,…show more content…
The disrespect and irony can be seen when Dee changes her name from a family name to a name that an ancestor could have had while still in Africa. After her Mom finds out she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo she confronts Miss Wangero about this blatant disrespect, “You know as well as me you were named after your aunt Dicie” (Walker 488). Dee’s name had been her Aunt’s, her Grandmother’s, and her Great Grandmother’s. Dee’s name was a family tradition that could be traced through 4 generations. Dee’s mother went on to say, “I could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches” (488). Dee’s name could had been in the family since before the Civil War. Dee’s only defense for abandoning this family name was that she didn’t want to have a name that was handed down from a slave master. Dee says “ I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me.”(488) It’s ironic that Dee would choose to give up the traditional family name in order to pick up a name someone could have had in Africa. It’s ironic to drop a tradition in order to revive one that may or may not have ever been observed by their family. It’s ironic because Dee lost her family’s tradition in order to save one that someone else…show more content…
When Dee returns and announces that she would be using a new name in order to reflect her African heritage her Mom becomes annoyed and starts to find her attitude ridiculous. After Dee tells her Mom that she no longer goes by Dee, Mom replies, “What happened to ‘Dee’?”(488). The fact the Mom asks about these changes exemplifies this annoyance she has with Dee. When Dee explains she changed her name because she’s oppressed her Mom shows that she finds the attitude ridiculous by pointing out it is a family tradition spanning more than 4 generations. When Dee starts asking to have the items that her Mom and Maggie need for everyday use with the intent to appreciate it as art, it only furthers how much she irritates her Mom. Dee had been offered one of the quilts before she went to college Dee thought they were, “old-fashioned, out of style.”(490). It’s after Maggie agrees to give Dee the quilts that her Mom realizes that she has always given Dee everything she wanted even at Maggie’s expense. Mother had an epiphany about how to handle the situation, shown when she says, “Something hit me on top of the head”, “just like when I’m in church and the spirit of God touches me”(492). Dee’s attitude had annoyed the Mom so much she had this realization. For once the Mom decides to stand up against
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