Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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Everyday Use by Alice Walker

In "Everyday Use," Alice Walker stresses the importance of heritage. She employs various ways to reveal many aspects of heritage that are otherwise hard to be noticed.

In the story, she introduces two sisters with almost opposite personalities and different views on heritage: Maggie and Dee. She uses the contrast between the two sisters to show how one should accept and preserve one's heritage. Beyond the contrast between two sisters there exist the judge figure mom, the narrator and the Dee's irony. The irony on Dee's opinion is the key to understand the story and why the mother let Maggie keep the quilts, which symbolize the heritage.

The two sisters in the contrast of Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" have different personalities and looks that are as opposite as right and wrong. It's seems like Walker is trying to say one of the sister is right and the other is wrong from the beginning. Maggie has poor, miserable image as Walker describes the way Maggie walks "…a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless people rich enough to own a car…". Maggie has burn scars down her arms and legs, which she got from the fire that burned the house they had earlier. Perhaps, because of her bad appearance, she is very shy and it is described where Walker says, "She (Maggie) has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle…". Dee, on the other hand, is a very self-confident girl with beautiful look. Her body is described as "…lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and fuller figure. She's a woman now…" (Walker 1172). She is highly motivated and does everything it takes to get what she wants, as it is described in the story of her graduation...

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... and Maggie for lacking very the knowledge of their heritage, it was her who was not able to accept her name, her heritage. That is why her mother didn't allow Dee to have the quilt.

Throughout the story really stresses the importance of heritage and suggests different ways to view one's heritage. Anyone could have his/her own way to view his/her heritage as Dee and Maggie did. One might value the attachment to one's ancestors via the heritage more than the heritage itself, and one might think the other way. Walker seems to be recommending her preferred way to view the heritage, which was Maggie's view on heritage. Walker tells the reader that they can pursue the connections to their ancestors by accepting and preserving their heritage in proper way, and it is more important to keep being connected to the ancestors than to keep the heritage in better shape.

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