Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1476 Words3 Pages

How does the difference between the way Dee (Wangero) and Maggie would use the quilts represent their two different ways of defining and treating their family’s heritage? Does the narrative give approval to Dee’s way or Maggie ’s? The idea of heritage is very different from one person to another. The story of “Everyday Use” shows a dynamic picture of two sisters that see their family history and upbringing nearly opposite points of view. The quilts become the catalyst for a cultural battle between Dee’s (Wangero) new “enlightened” lifestyle and Maggie’s contentment with her upbringing. Dee makes it clear, long before she asked for the quilts, that she has already taken her heritage for granted. Dee makes the bold proclamation that she is not longer going by the name Dee, “‘Not Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!’” (Walker, 3013). Not only has “Wangero” shocked her mother with her new name, but goes to attack those her family history, “I could not longer bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppressed me.” The author make a substantial point by connecting Dee’s new beliefs to disowning her heritage and her ancestors. Despite the rejection of her family’s humbled life, Dee finds a desire in the quilt of her family’s past. Dee’s request for the quilts is far from nostalgic and she has little consideration for her sister when she asks for both antique quilts. Dee is in love with the idea of displaying her family as a display of her superiority over her ancestors and can not understand why her mother would not agree with her. The condescending attitude and request from Dee leads Maggie to feel ashamed of her life for a moment and she nearly gives the heirlooms away. “She can have them, Mama,” were the words of... ... middle of paper ... ...2784). There is much to like about both mother and daughter in aesthetically, but the true victory seems to come in spirit. The daughter alludes to an idea that her mother was also judged harshly and made to feel ashamed. By the daughters ability to see through her mothers flaws and recognize that she was as wounded as the child was, there is sense of freedom for both when the daughter find her true self. Line such as “your nightmare of weakness,” and I learned from you to define myself through your denials,” present the idea that the mother was never able to defeat those that held her captive or she denied her chance to break free. The daughter moments of personal epiphany is a victory with the mother because it breaks a chain of self-loathing or hatred. There is pride and love for the women they truly were and is to be celebrated for mother and daughter.

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