Alice Walker, John Updike, and Tom Whitecloud write stories in which culture plays an important role in many aspects of the conflict. In each story, a particular ethnic, occupational, social, gender, or age group's culture may be observed through characters' actions, thoughts, and speech. The decisions the characters make to resolve these conflicts in Everyday Use, A & P, and Blue Winds Dancing are affected by the characters cultural experiences. In fact, the conflict itself may be about clashing cultures or entirely generated as a result of cultural experiences. A character's culture continues to guide him as he tries to resolve the conflict. In short, culture heavily affects the three stories' conflicts.
To begin with, in Walker's Everyday Use, the conflict is a result of clashing cultural values and of cultural point-of-view. Dee, who has adopted the Islamic culture and name the Wangero, returns to her African-American family for a reunion. While there, she asks that a pair of quilts from her deceased grandmother be given to her, not her sister, Maggie. Dee claims that her sister will ruin them through "everyday use." In fact, she charges during a discussion, "[Maggie would] probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use" (89). To these charges, her mother, the story's narrator, says, "I reckon she would [use the quilts daily] ... God knows I've been saving (the quilts) for long enough with no body using 'em. I hope she will" (89). Dee counters by saying, "You just don't understand ... your heritage" (90). She charges that her mother does not understand her heritage and therefore should give the quilts to her since she will preserve them. This conflict...
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In conclusion, all three stories are unique in their use of culture. Each uses clashes in culture or a unique cultural setting to convey a message. In each story, this culture gives us a unique perspective into other people's lives and the conflicts they face. The way the conflict is handled is a decision left to the individual, who is guided by his cultural upbringing. Each culture handles the problem differently giving us a multitude of different points of view. Three of such perspectives are examined by Everyday Use, A & P, and Blue Winds Dancing.
Updike, John. "A & P" Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 6th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002.
Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1994.
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