In the story 'Everyday Use', by Alice Walker, the value of ones culture and heritage are defined as a part of life that should not be looked upon as history but as a living existence of the past. Walker writes of the conflict between two Black cultures. Dee and Maggie are sisters whom do not share the same ideals. Mama is torn between two children with different perspectives of what life truly means. In the story, Walker describes the trial and tribulations of one daughter whose whole life is tormented by fear, failure and weakness; while the other "has held life always in the palm of one hand"(61) and moves to a better lifestyle. The possessions of the past will ultimately change the relationships of the future.
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
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.
Alice Walker uses symbolism through the use of these quilts to represent African American heritage. They were hand sewn by Grandma Dee, Big Dee, and Mama using “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, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War” (Baym and Levine 1535). Mama and Maggie both believe that the quilts represent their family’s traditions and the memories that were made throughout the years, whereas Dee (Wangero) looks at the quilts as something to hang on the wall for decoration. In the past she had even considered them to be “old fashioned, out of style” (Baym and Levine 1536). Dee (Wangero) is aware that it took a lot of hard work to sew them, and knows about African history perhaps through a book she read while at school, but these quilts were a family heirloom, from the same family that she did not want to be a part of. The quilts had already been promised to Maggie because Mama knew she understood their history since she was more conscious of the heritage that the quilts represented. She could truly appreciate the work her family put into making them. These quilts held great sentimental value to her. She rightfully deserved them and Mama made sure she had them. Mama tells of how she
For example, when she arrives, the very first thing Dee announces is that she has taken a new name to remove herself from “the people who oppress her” (Walker). In fact, she was named after her aunt, but Mama humors her instead of making an issue of it (Walker). There are several instances in this story where Dee insults her culture and heritage due to her recent acculturation (Walker). She wants to acquire everyday things from the family home to display as art (Walker). Her sister is offended, but Mama, keeps a tight rein on the situation, as any good leader would (Walker). Mama can see that Dee has evolved and adapted from her experiences and allows her that freedom (Walker). But, not everyone can be seduced by the influences of others and so cultures and traditions are retained. When Dee’s visit ends, life goes back to the way in which Mama and the younger sister, Maggie, are accustom (Walker). Mama keeps a balance in this story. She is conducive in assuring her daughters feel comfortable to stay with what they know or fly off into the
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.
Alice Walkers “Everyday Use”, is a story about a family of African Americans that are faced with moral issues involving what true inheritance is and who deserves it. Two sisters and two hand stitched quilts become the center of focus for this short story. Walker paints for us the most vivid representation through a third person perspective of family values and how people from the same environment and upbringing can become different types of people.
Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," is a story about a poor, African-American family and a conflict about the word "heritage." In this short story, the word "heritage" has two meanings. One meaning for the word "heritage" represents family items, thoughts, and traditions passed down through the years. The other meaning for the word "heritage" represents the African-American culture.
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.
One situation in particular that Mama brings up is the time when she offers to Dee to bring some of the ancestral quilts with her to college. She claims, “I had offered Dee a quilt whe...
Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," explores Dee and Maggie's opposing views about their heritage by conveying symbolism through their actions. Maggie is reminded of her heritage throughout everyday life. Her daily chores consist of churning milk, helping mama skin hogs on the bench which is the same table her ancestors built, and working in the pasture. On the other hand, Dee moved to the city where she attends college. It is obvious throughout the story; Dee does not appreciate her heritage. When Dee comes back to visit Mama and Maggie she announces that she has changed her name to Wangero. Dee states "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me" (89). Her stopping the tradition of the name Dee, which goes back as far as mama can remember, tells the reader that Dee does not value her heritage. Another symbolism of her lack of appreciation for her heritage demonstrated through her actions is when Dee asks Mama if she can have the churn top to use it as a ce...
In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," the message about the preservation of heritage, specifically African-American heritage, is very clear. It is obvious that Walker believes that a person's heritage should be a living, dynamic part of the culture from which it arose and not a frozen timepiece only to be observed from a distance. There are two main approaches to heritage preservation depicted by the characters in this story. The narrator, a middle-aged African-American woman, and her youngest daughter Maggie, are in agreement with Walker. To them, their family heritage is everything around them that is involved in their everyday lives and everything that was involved in the lives of their ancestors. To Dee, the narrator's oldest daughter, heritage is the past - something to frame or hang on the wall, a mere artistic, aesthetic reminder of her family history. Walker depicts Dee's view of family heritage as being one of confusion and lack of understanding.
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a short story about a mother and two very different daughters set in rural Georgia during the late 1960’s. The plot is centered around on the two daughters, Dee and Maggie, and focusing on the differences between the two and who will gain possession of two hand-made quilts that are seen as a coveted trophy by Dee and are viewed as everyday items Maggie. The final decision of which daughter ultimately receives the quilts will be made by Momma Johnson. Momma, who is never given a first name in the story, is a strong black woman with many man-like qualities. “In real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands. In the winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls during the day.” (DiYanni 744) Momma is a tough woman and has had to be both father and mother to the daughters although the story never comments on the absence of the father. The story revolves around a visit home by Dee who has been away at college and has recently discovered the true meaning of black heritage with her adoption of ideas and practices from black power groups while simultaneously rejecting her own upbringing. Upon arriving home, Dee announces that she has changed her name to “Wangero” in defiance of her white oppressors and to embrace her newly found African heritage with a more appropriate black name. Dee and Maggie are complete opposites in appearance, education and desire to escape their childhood surroundings. Maggie has little education and no noticeable desire to improve her situation and prefers to be left alone in the shadows where she can hide her physical and emotional scars from a house fire when she was a child. Hand sewn quilts become the objects of Dee’s desires; objects ...
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a short story about an African American family that struggles to make it. Mama tries her best to give Maggie and Dee a better life than what she had. In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use,” Dee is the older sister and Maggie is younger. Dee is described as selfish and self-centered. Maggie is generous, kind, and cares the family’s history together. She would go out of her way to make sure that her older sister, Dee has everything she needs and wants. Maggie is also willing to share what she has with her sister. Maggie is also shy and vulnerable. Mama is the mother of Maggie and Dee. Mama is fair and always keeps her promises to her children. Hakim-a-barber is the boyfriend
By looking at the last couple pages of Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” the reader can determine a certain style Walker uses to tell the story of a culture gap between an African American family. By using slang and incorrect word usage with Mama and proper, almost eloquent English with Dee, Walker is able to paint the perfect picture of how truly different the mother and daughter are. Also, Walker alternates between simple, often incomplete sentences with incorrect run-on sentences to depict Mama’s lack of proper education. Finally, Walker uses certain wording to indicate Mama’s feelings in regards to how her daughters act, ultimately helping her make her final decision in who gets the quilts.