Essay on What Heritage Really Means and What it May be Portrayed As

Essay on What Heritage Really Means and What it May be Portrayed As

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Heritage is one of the most important factors that represents where a person came from. In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, this short story represents not only the symbolism in heritage, but also separates the difference between what heritage really means and what it may be portrayed as. Dee is a well-educated African-American woman who is embarrassed by her mother and sister who are not as knowledgeable as her. On the other hand, Mama and Maggie understand their heritage and embrace it, while Dee believes her heritage is the African culture. In “Everyday Use,” there is symbolism in the quilts, the handicrafts, and the change in Dee’s name and new appearance.
In “Everyday Use,” the quilts play an important role in depicting symbolism of heritage because they signified Dee’s family origins. For instance, Dees’ Grandma Dee, Grandpa Jarrell, and Grandpa Ezra all have pieces of their fabric sowed on to the quilt as a remembrance of who they were and their importance in the family. Nevertheless, she does not see the quilts as valuable, hand-made, pieces of fabric that need to be taken care of and used. Dee misinterprets the essential meaning of the quilts and how they were created because of her understanding to the traditional African culture she became deeply influenced. However, these quilts were a representation of Dee’s significant family members, and they were meaningful to Mama and Maggie because they understood the importance of these quilts that were so carefully sown. “They had been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and me had hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them” (Walker 1129). These quilts not only embraced Mama and Maggie’s family origins, but also, exemplified a profound piece of fabric...


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... Dee’s transformation, her name change also symbolized heritage in the story because this shows differentiation between Dees understands of her “heritage” and her true heritage. For instance, when Dee told Mama that she changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, Mama clarified that her name was significant because it came from a long line of generations in her family, and she should be proud to carry a name as momentous as hers. Dee believes that her new name truly represents her African heritage and fails to take into an appraisal of her birth name because it “oppressed” her. “’What happened to ‘Dee’?’ I wanted to know. ‘She’s dead,’ Wangero said. ‘I couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me’” (Walker 1128). Dees’ complete transformation occurred because she created a new heritage for herself and denied to accept her true heritage.

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