In the story Maggie and Mama are anticipating the return of Dee who has been away at school. They have never particularly got along due to their differences, though they seem to be at least amicable towards each other. While Maggie values their history in the traditional sense, with everyday acknowledgement of how important these things are, Dee portrays their heritage as something that’s meant to be shown off. Although Maggie and Dee appear to both value their heritage, in reality they see the concept in totally different ways. From the moment Dee was introduced in “Everyday Use” it was clear that she saw things a lot different than her family had.
Unlike Dee, Mama and Maggie do not have an education, but they understand and appreciate their family's background. In “Everyday Use,” the quilts, handicrafts, and Dee’s transformation helps the reader interpret that Walker exposed symbolism of heritage in two distinctive point of views. The quilts play an important role in depicting symbolism of heritage because they signify Dee’s family origins. For instance, Dees’ significant family members all have pieces of their fabric sown on to the quilts as a remembrance of who they were and their importance in the family. Nevertheless, Dee is overlooking important facets of her family history because she does not see the quilts her ancestors made as valuable, hand-made, pieces of fabric that should be passed down and taken care of to keep their history alive.
Dee and Maggie are as different as hot and cold, but unlike Maggie, Dee has a much more superficial idea of heritage. She brings shame and agitation among her family members, but as an individual she searches for personal meaning and a stronger sense of self. Mama describes Dee as self-centered, but smart and beautiful, who sees herself as in control of her life. “She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits… ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe” (Walker 477).
Walker implies similarly this is how she stands in relation to her culture. Mama attempts to differentiate Maggie and Dee in their physical appearance alone to disclose any change in culture. Even though Maggie believes in the same culture as she does, Mama initially does not fully recognize that. Instead, she focuses on describing her attributes by stating, “[Maggie] knows she is not bright. Li... ... middle of paper ... ...Mama begins to see Maggie in a different light and learns to appreciate her simplicity and goodness as compared to Dee’s sophistication and ambitions.
Dee’s knowledge of the modern world is foreign and dangerous to her mother, including “other folks’ habits” and “lies,” making Maggie and her mother feel “ignorant and trapped” because they have a different tradition of learning. Traditions established in learning reach far beyond ways of... ... middle of paper ... ...t Maggie looks at her heritage as memories of those ancestors in her past and their influence on her life (Norton 1536). She did not stand up against Dee because she knew that without the quilts she could remember the memories she had about the quilts. Maggie’s childhood was one filled with wounds; by seeing her home be burned to the ground, she is able to hold onto the good memories better than Dee can. In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker is attempting to express two conflicting beliefs heritage and their struggle of one being better than the other.
The turning point in the mother/daughter relationship came at the end of the story, when Mother realized all of the horrible things her daughter was doing; not even necessarily doing intentionally. She thought that perhaps her daughter would change her un-appreciativeness, and respect her pride for her way of life and her valued items around her, but she had to decide between one daughter and the other. The one who would display the quilts and household items as pieces to be viewed and admired as a way of the old life, or to the other daughter who would use them in the way they were meant to be used.
Another symbolism of her lack of appreciation for her heritage demonstrated through her actions is when Dee asks Mama if she can have the churn top to use it as a ce... ... middle of paper ... ...e to have them. Tradition symbolizes heritage as an important factor in their lives. Alice Walker used symbolism to convey the importance of heritage in her short story "Everyday Use," by using the sisters' actions, family items, and tradition. Dee does not appreciate her heritage like her sister and mother. She does not see the importance of family traditions.
In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use” an object becomes the cause of conflict between Maggie and her sister Dee. The object of conflict between these two polar opposite sisters is a handmade quilt passed down from their ancestors. They both associate the quilt with their heritage but it is obvious their views on heritage are quite different. Dee, the older daughter, represents a misconception of heritage as material while to Maggie heritage is both knowledge and form which is passed down from one generation to another through learning and experiences. Mama and Maggie symbolize the connection between generations and the heritage that passed between them.
Mama, on the other hand, almost gives in until Maggie, who knows her place in this world like Mama knows hers, says that Wangero can have the quilts. Maggie's act of resignation triggers Mama into doing something she had never done before. She hugs Maggie and stands up to Wangero. The irony of Wangero's statement that Mama does not understand her heritage (74) ties the emotions of the conflict together. With that statement, we perceive that Mama and Maggie not only understand their heritage, they are living examples of it.
After evaluating the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, I came to the conclusion that the narrator made the right choice of giving her daughter, Maggie, the family quilts. Dee (Wangero), her older sister was qualified for the quilts as well, but in my opinion Maggie is more deserving. Throughout the story, the differences between the narrator’s two daughters are shown in different ways. The older daughter, Dee (Wangero), is educated and outgoing, whereas Maggie is shy and a homebody. I agree with the narrator’s decision because of Maggie’s good intentions for the quilts and her innocent behavior.