In her short story Everyday Use, Alice Walker talks about a Mother Mama, and her two daughters Dee and Maggie, their personalities and reactions to preservation of their family heirlooms. She shows that while Dee has been sent to school for further education, Maggie is left at home and brought up in the old ways. Mama often dreams and longs for the day she can be reunited with Dee, like in the TV shows. She knows this may not be possible because Dee would read and shower them with a lot of knowledge that was unnecessary, only to push them away at the right moment, “like dimwits” (313); Mama and Dee have different conceptions of their family heritage. Family heirlooms to Mama means the people created, used
By distinguishing the family-oriented round characters in the short story "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the common mistake of placing the association of heritage solely in material objects. Walker presents Mama and Maggie, the younger daughter, as an example that heritage in both knowledge and form passes from one generation to another through a learning and experience connection. However, by a broken connection, Dee, the older daughter, represents a misconception of heritage as materialistic. During Dee's visit to Mama and Maggie, the contrast of the characters becomes the conflict, because Dee...
Not many people know their family’s heritage. Matters such as where their ancestors come from or what trials he or she went through are typically lost in the hands of time if not kept in check by members of the family. In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” that is not the case of Mama, the narrator of the story. However, for her elder daughter, Dee, it is, nor does she particularly care to know. Dee is a woman who does everything in the name of her style. One aspect that is clear she does not think is part of her style is her family’s meager lifestyle. In fact, it is safe to say that Dee has an inability to understand the meaning of ‘heritage’.
Mama and Maggie have the same view because Maggie has stayed with Mama her entire life. Mama taught Maggie the art of making the quilts for the family. The quilts mean everything to Mama, and Maggie because this is all they have to remember their ancestors. The quilts are made from clothes, and other fabrics that have been passed down throughout the family’s generations. Maggie and Mama see the family’s heritage from the living in the western hemisphere rather than their African descent. However, Dee knows nothing of this heritage, and wants the quilts strictly because she thinks she knows what they stand for. If the quilts were given to Dee the tradition of the quilts would dwindle. As stated prior Dee changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo because she wanted to be closer to her heritage. When Mama hears of the change she feels that Dee is actually betraying the family because Dee is a name that has been passed down for generations. Dee sees her heritage from the Africa whereas Mama sees her heritage from her generations of family in North
Mama and Maggie symbolize the connection between generations and the heritage that passed between them. They continue to live together in their humble home. Mama is a “large, big-boned woman,” (Walker 1) who does the needed upkeep of the land. And Maggie is a shy and scared girl “ashamed of her burn scars,” (Walker 1). Neither Mama or Maggie are ‘modernly’ educated persons, “I [Mama] never had an education myself. Sometimes Maggie reads to me. She stumbles along good-naturedly. She knows she is not bright,” (Walker 2). However, by helping Mama, Maggie uses the handmade items in her life, experiences the life of her ancestors, and learns of both, exemplified by Maggie’s knowledge of the handmade items and the people who made them-- a knowledge which Dee does not possess.
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a thought provoking short story that teaches the importance of preserving heritage. The story surrounds an argument between a southern traditional mother (Mrs. Johnson) and her eldest daughter (Dee/Wangero), over Dee’s lack of respect, knowledge and selfish behavior regarding her family’s heritage. Mrs. Johnson has two daughters (Maggie and Dee) who have two completely different views of the world and different lifestyles. In the story two quilts are used to symbolize the importance of the family’s culture. A family feud begins when the three women argue over who should receive the quilts.
In the story Everyday Use by Alice Walker, we learn about a family that includes a mom called “Mama” and two very different daughters named Dee and Maggie. One daughter, Dee, has had a much easier life than her sister, Maggie, in many aspects. The relationship between Mama and her daughters provides the basis for Mama’s actions. The story is told from the perspective of Mama, allowing readers to learn about her thoughts and the motivation behind her actions. At the beginning of the story, Mama worries about what Dee thinks of her and tries to please her by giving her anything she asks for. By the end of the story, we see Mama changes because she stands up to Dee, resulting in her finally able to give Maggie something she desires. Mama changes because she realizes Dee shouldn’t control her actions and that Maggie deserves better treatment. Mama’s choice to stand up to Dee is crucial to understanding her character because we’ve seen how Dee has controlled Maggie and Mama for a long time and this action shows a turning point in all of their lives.
In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use,” tells us a story of two daughters’, Dee and Maggie Johnson, with different ideas about their identities and values. Dee a young woman who, in the course of a visit to the rural home she thinks she has outgrown, attempts unsuccessfully to divert some fine old quilts ,earmarked for the dowry of a sister, into her own hands. Dee is Mrs. Johnson’s oldest daughter, the one who has always been determined, popular, and successful. Maggie is her young sister who was severely burned in the house fire as a child. She is still lives with her mother in poverty, putting “priceless” objects to “everyday use.” A similar view is expressed by Houston Baker and Charlotte Pierce-Baker, who writes, “A scarred and dull Maggie, who has been kept at home and confined to everyday offices, has but one reaction to the fiery and vivacious arrival of her sister.”
The story “Everyday Use” tells the story of a mother and her two daughter's differing views about their identities and heritage. In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker uses descriptive imagery and metaphors to communicate to readers the importance of heritage. She also shows how it is a part of life that is meant to be shared with each generation. The main characters in this story, "Mama" and Maggie on one side, Dee on the other, each have conflicting views on various items of historical and cultural significance. 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.
"Mama," Wangro said sweet as a bird. "Can I have these old quilts?" Mama replied, "Why don 't you take one or two of the others?” "These old things was just done by me and Big Dee from some tops your grandma pieced before she died." Dee still would ask for it again. Mama remembers the promise that she had made to Maggie. "The truth is," I said, "I promised to give them quilts to Maggie, for when she marrys John Thomas." This proves that Mama is always fair and keeps her promises. Mama understands what family heritage is important so she would be give the quilts to
... attempts to change the way Mama and Maggie perceive tradition by using the quilts as a wall display. Mama refuses to allow it, Dee was offered the quilts when she was in college and didn’t want them at that time. Mama gives the quilts to Maggie as her wedding gift to be used every day as they were intended, knowing how much Maggie appreciates them. I agree with Mama and Maggie for keeping family memories and objects in daily use. It is important to maintain your family history in your everyday life to preserve those special memories.
Heritage is one of the most important factors that represents where a person came from. In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, this short story characterizes not only the symbolism of heritage, but also separates the difference between what heritage really means and what it may be portrayed as. Throughout the story, it reveals an African-American family living in small home and struggling financially. Dee is a well-educated woman who struggles to understand her family's heritage because she is embarrassed of her mother and sister, Mama and Maggie. 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 main objects of topic throughout the story are the quilts that symbolize the African American Woman’s history. Susan Farrell, a critic of many short stories, describes the everyday lives of African American Women by saying “weaving and sewing has often been mandatory labor, women have historically endowed their work with special meanings and significance” and have now embraced this as a part of their culture. The two quilts that Dee wanted “had been pieced together by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and me [Mother] had hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them” (par. 55) showing that these quilts were more valuable as memories than they were just blankets. The fabrics in the quilts “were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the piece of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War” (par. 55) putting forth more evidence that these are not just scraps, but have become pieces of family history. The q...
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.
The objects that lead to the final confrontation between Dee and Mama are the old quilts. These quilts are described as being made from old material by family members, which enhances their value to Mama, and the detail with which they are described increases the sense of setting.