The Importance of Heritage in "Everyday Use"

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In “Everyday Use ” by Alice Walker the exact setting is never revealed and therefore, can only be guessed, but it has been guessed that the story takes place on a country side in Georgia. At one point in the story Augusta is mentioned. The time is also estimated to be during the Civil Rights Movement around the year of 1973. Mrs. Johnson, along with her two daughters, reside in a small three room house, and take pride in there small yard. As Maggie and Dee grow older they start to realize how important their heritage, and family heirlooms are, Maggie in particular. Maggie has made her mother promise to give her the quilts when she becomes old enough. However, Dee wants to hang the quilts up so they can be admired as if they are artifacts. Mrs. Johnson desperately tries to teach her two daughters the importance of keeping their African American heritage alive.

Mrs. Johnson narrates the story and is described as a “strong, loving mother”,( but also “gentle and stern”. ( Mama takes the role of the man of the house as well as having to be the mother. For example, in one afternoon she killed, slaughtered, and hung the meat of young calf all by herself and even though she can do these types of labors, Mrs. Johnson is a very humble lady who is quite satisfied living her modest life style. Dee, on the other hand, is described as an “object of jealousy, awe and imagination”. ( She is so very different from her mother and sister. She changed her name from Dee to Wangero. In part, due to the fact that she feels Dee was a white person's name. Mama Johnson assures Dee that she is not named after a white man, and that she was named after her grandmother. De...

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