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Everyday Use

Satisfactory Essays
¡§Different points of view on culture and heritage¡¨

¡§Everyday Use¡¨ is a literary explanation of what culture is. In ¡§Everyday

Use¡¨, the author Alice Walker confronts the question of what are the true values in

one¡¦s heritage and culture. In the conflict between Dee and her mother, Alice Walker

shows that one¡¦s culture and heritage are represented by neither the possession of

objects or external appearances, but by the lifestyle and attitude. In "Everyday Use¡¨,

Alice Walker personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of

Dee (Wangero) and her mother (the narrator). Dee can be seen to represent a complex

and modern way of life where culture and heritage are to be valued. Her mother

represents a practical way of life where they are valued both for it is usefulness as

well as personal significance.

When Dee first comes to visit the family, she is wearing a long dress, even

though the weather is very hot. We get the impression that Dee is more occupied with

aesthetic appearances rather than practicality. The dress is colored with

enough yellow and orange "to throw back the light of the sun"(1174). Dee is also

wearing numerous pieces of jewelry, earrings and bracelets. Even more than Alice

Walker¡¦s description of Dee is the significance of Dee¡¦s "name change" to Wangero

that seems to symbolize Dee¡¦s attitude about one¡¦s culture and heritage. It seems to

reflect a sort of glittery artificial pretense put on in order to assume sophistication.

Dee disregards the importance of her name, the fact that she was named after her aunt

Dicie.And when asked about why she changed her name, Dee can only discharge an

answer, "I couldn¡¦t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress

me."(1175) Another important detail is the words directly preceding her answer about

what happened to her name ¡V "She¡¦s dead..." (1175) is Dee¡¦s answer. By these words,

Alice Walker shows that Dee has distanced herself even further from her family,

heritage, and culture ¡V despite her "new" name and the way of talking. Dee is

portrayed as aggressive, to the point of total lack of regard for her family. When she

first greets her family, she starts snapping pictures of the house and her mother before

even greeting them with a kiss or a hug, or even a handshake. Later, when they are in

the house, Dee begins just taking various items for herself, assuming they belong to
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