Everyday Use by Alice Walker: How to Appreciate One’s Culture

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Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” revolves around a conversation the mother has with the Dee, the daughter that went off to college and her sister Maggie. A discussion over who is more deserving of the hand stitched quilts sewed together by their mother, Grandmother, and Aunt Dee. During their conversation, both daughters will demonstrate how they appreciate their family quilts, but sadly, we can conclude that only one of the girls illustrates how to appreciate one’s culture. Maggie uses the quilts to remember her Grandmother Dee, while her sister Dee changes her name and only wants to use the quilts to decorate her home. Dee, a family name that the mother can trace beyond the civil war (464), but in spite that lineage Dee goes and trades her name for Wangero (464). When the narrator asks, “What happened to ‘Dee’?”(464) she was curious to find out why her daughter would reject her birth name. “She’s dead” (464) Dee replies, “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppressed me” (464) but the original name that her oppressors gave their ancestors has been deluded over generations and the name Dee, had a family and historical significance to the mother. Dee thinks that ancestral heritage is more important than her immediate heritage. The mother explains, “I could have carried it back before the Civil Way through the branches” (464) Dee could not understand the cultural significance of her name, the very same name that came from her loved ones and not by her oppressors. She fails to appreciate the cultural significance of the name Dee. Dee wants to appreciate her family quilts by framing them in her home, but Maggie would most likely put them to everyday use and have them in order to remember her Grandmother ... ... middle of paper ... ...monstrate how little she cares for her family culture by displaying her family quilts as decor, changing her family name, and with her new identity, she has completely left her family culture. The mother can understand Dee’s viewpoint, but that is the reason she cannot grant Dee those quilts. When Maggie displays her affection about the quilts and is willing to part with them, her mother understands that she is more deserving of the family quilts. That is how we can appreciate our family culture, by remembering those who came before us and keeping their memories alive within us. We do not have to be acceptance by our own culture since we are born in them, but we need to perpetuate the ideas in order for them to stick with us over time. Works Cited Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” The Seagull Reader: Stories / edited by Joseph Kelly. New York: Norton, 2008. Print.
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