Meaning Of Heritage In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

analytical Essay
472 words
472 words

In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the narrator, Mama, describes her life with her daughter Maggie and their awaiting homecoming of her oldest daughter Dee who left town to pursue her education. When Dee arrives, she dresses in a brightly colored, orange and yellow ankle dress, these colors indicate a sign of change is approaching. Dee also states how she has renamed herself to “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” and that the Dee they knew is dead. Wangero (Dee) is persuaded that the name “Dee” was given to her by white oppressors, therefore her new name provides her with a new sense of identity and tradition – leaving behind the life she was born into. However, Wangero’s reasoning behind her name change is culturally incorrect, Mama traces the family history of her name and proves Wangero wrong. This also continues throughout the story as Wangero treats their tradition as a set of artifacts, regarding the house to be something to photograph and objects within the house as art centerpieces …show more content…

Wangero and Mama both have different outlooks on the meaning of heritage. Wangero see’s it as something of the past or objects while Mama and Maggie’s idea involves people. Maggie wants the quilts to represent her time with her family and those who have gone on before her. There is sentimental value connected to Maggie and Mama’s sense of heritage because it involved their loved ones. Wangero’s heritage is a false construction in favor of what she wants to believe and is easily changed. In the quotes presented above, Wangero explains in disgust why she deserves the quilts, she sees the quilts as representations of the past, and by this she misses the true meaning behind the quilts. Her forced efforts to know her heritage blindsides her from seeing the true beauty in her heritage. The irony of “Everyday Use” is Wangero argues that Mama and Maggie do not understand their heritage while it is Wangero herself who does

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the narrator, mama, describes her life with her daughter maggie and their awaiting homecoming of her oldest daughter dee who left town to pursue her education.
  • Analyzes how wangero and mama have different views on the meaning of heritage, arguing that mama and maggie don't understand their heritage.
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