Adopted Heritage In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

1722 words - 7 pages

 
     Each of us is raised within a culture, a set of traditions handed down by those before us. As individuals, we view and experience common heritage in subtly differing ways. Within smaller communities and families, deeply felt traditions serve to enrich this common heritage. Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" explores how, in her eagerness to claim an ancient heritage, a woman may deny herself the substantive personal experience of familial traditions.

            Narrated by the mother of two daughters, the story opens with an examination of one daughter's favoring of appearances over substance, and the effect this has on her relatives. The mother and her younger daughter, Maggie, live in an impoverished rural area. They anticipate the arrival of the elder daughter, Dee, who left home for college and is bringing her new husband with her for a visit. The mother recalls how, as a child, Dee hated the house in which she was raised. It was destroyed in a fire, and as it was burning, Dee "(stood) off under the sweet gum tree... a look of concentration on her face", tempting her mother to ask, "'why don't you do a dance around the ashes?'" (Walker 91) She expects Dee will hate their current house, also. The small, three-room house sits in a pasture, with "no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides" (Walker 92), and although, as Dee asserts, they "choose to live" in such a place, Dee keeps her promise to visit them (Walker 92). Her distaste for her origins is felt by her mother and Maggie, who, in anticipation of Dee's arrival, internalize her attitudes. They feel to some extent their own unworthiness. The mother envisions a reunion in which her educated, urbane daughter would be proud of her. In reality, she describes herself as "a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands. In the winter I wear... overalls during the day. ...my fat keeps me hot in zero weather" (Walker 91). In the fantasy of their reunion, she appears as "my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake" (Walker 91). In fantasy, she converses eloquently with Johnny Carson; in reality, she knows that, unlike Dee, she could not "(look) a strange white man in the eye" (Walker 91). The younger daughter, Maggie, like her mother, lacks the education and style important to her sister. She carries scars on her arms from the fire that destroyed their house, reads clumsily to her mother, and "knows she is not bright" (Walker 92). With increasing anxiety, Maggie awaits Dee's visit, and upon Dee's arrival, actually attempts to escape into the house. Her mother forces her to stay with her in the yard to greet Dee and her new husband. However Dee may wish them to be, this is who they are.

            Dee personifies her own values. "At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was" (Walker 92). With her husband, she arrives at her mother's home in a brightly-colored dress, adorned with flashy jewelry, her...

Find Another Essay On Adopted Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

Walker's Message of Personal Heritage in "Everyday Use"

1970 words - 8 pages they and their forefathers have created for themselves in this country. I believe that Walker message is that a person’s heritage comes more from the connections that bind the generations together than a certain area, culture or country. Works Cited Cowart, David. "Heritage and Deracination in Walker's "Everyday Use"." Studies in Short Fiction 33 (1996): 174-184. DiYanni, Robert. "Literature, Reading Fiction, Poetry and Drama." Walker, Alice. Everyday Use. Boston: McGraw Hill, 1973. 743-749.

Rejecting Heritage: Wangero's Greed Illustrated in Walker's, Everyday Use

1655 words - 7 pages , most people forget the real value of these items, however, and commercialize them as art or sell them away as junk in garage sales. In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” we are shown a vivid example of what can happen when people take these once treasured items for granted. Walker’s character Dee/Wangero is an estranged daughter and sister who has not seen her family for six years reappears at her mother’s home to take away her family’s most

Acceptance and Denial in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

777 words - 3 pages Mama, the protagonist in Alice Walker's short story, Everyday Use is a woman with a solid foundation and tough roots. The qualities that society would find admirable within Mama are the same qualities that Dee, Mama's oldest daughter, would spurn, thinking them only the qualities of a down home, uneducated, country bumpkin. Dee, the story's main antagonist, is proof that children are not necessarily products of their environment. From

Compares the two sisters in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"

558 words - 2 pages ".Alice Walker characterizes each character in "Everyday Use" in a way that helps develop the theme and symbolism of the story. One theme is the old ways vs. the new ways and another theme is offspring breaking from the mold of their parents, wanting to live a different/better life. The narrator, who is the mother, and the younger daughter, Maggie, are living together the old way, which is the way they always have. They live with prejudice without

Symbolic Analysis of Alice Walker's Everyday Use

1755 words - 7 pages Symbolic Analysis of Alice Walker's Everyday Use Alice Walker?s ?Everyday Uses (For Your Grandmother)? is a story about a woman?s struggle with the past and her inability and unwillingness to accept the future. The three main characters in the story are Dee, her younger sister Maggie, and their mother. The story is narrated by the mother in an almost reminiscent manner, and it is on her that the focus of the story centers. Her eldest

Depictions and Contrasts of Empowerment and Heritage in Alice Walker's Every Day Use

2365 words - 9 pages and Alice Walkers other “Womanist” characters. The short story with the most potent, dramatic parallels between the different notions of heritage and empowerment is in Alice Walkers “Everyday Use.” The main character and narrator of the story is simply referred to as Mama. She is, as described by Walker, a “Large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands.” (Walker 2773) She works through her life with a 2nd grade education, and had never

An Analysis of Alice Walker's "everyday Use"

1242 words - 5 pages An Analysis of Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. This novel, in addition to her short story collections and other novels, continue to touch the emotions of a vast audience. This ability, according to critics, has "solidified her reputation as one of the major figures in contemporary literature" (Gwynn 462). Born to sharecroppers in Eatonton, Georgia, in 1944, Alice Walker's

Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" and John Updike's "A & P"

920 words - 4 pages ; unfair treatment of the young female customers or continue in his obedient societal position as a cashier, checking the “sheep” through the register (Updike). Mama’s character, in “Everyday Use”, faces conflict with her daughter Dee when she realized that while she and her other daughter Maggie live their culture, Dee had forgotten what her heritage meant and wanted only to use it to show her superiority. Each character

A Lesson About Family: Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"

1829 words - 7 pages their genealogy back one hundred or two hundred years. "Everyday Use" is a story about family values and the conflict that can occur when those values are compromised. Upon reading Alice Walker's short story, "Everyday Use", the reader should leave with new perspectives about the importance of understanding one's heritage, about the significance of a humble beginning in life, and about the importance of being happy and content with who one is and

Analysis of Patches: Quilt and Community in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

706 words - 3 pages Analysis of Patches: Quilt and Community in Alice Walker's Everyday Use In a critique titled “Patches: Quilt and Community in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’” (Short Story Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Works of Short Fiction Writers, 1990), the authors reveal that tradition and the explanation of holiness were key elements throughout the story. The writers began the analysis by discussing the significance of a quilt; a quilt is

Alice Walker's "Everyday Use".

1086 words - 4 pages condemns the older, more worldly sister, Dee as 'shallow,' 'condescending,' and 'manipulative,' as overly concerned with style, fashion, and aesthetics, and thus is lacking a "true" understanding of her heritage" (Farrell 1). Mama is the narrator who is in the middle of both of the sisters. Mama admits that Dee was a mistaken child and falls more kin to Maggie. Mama is characterized as a "big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands" (Walker 65

Similar Essays

The Meaning Of Heritage In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

994 words - 4 pages The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use     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

Theme Of Heritage In Walker's Everyday Use

1616 words - 6 pages "Growing up in Different Eras of time and disparities between the quality of education affect peoples’ perception of heritage." "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker was an inspiring story of family and heritage. Simplicity against complexity. The old ways and the new ways. It was about people fighting for change and

Symbolism In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

2096 words - 8 pages heritage. In an article titled “ Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’,” the author states “ When Mama gives Maggie the quilt it shows that Mama does understand the importance of heritage. It is better to use the quilts as a memory of the family rather than a piece of art hanging on the wall.” It shows that Mama Johnson thinks the quilt would be in better hands if she gave it to Maggie than she had given it to Dee. Julie

Symbolism In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

1576 words - 6 pages Symbolism in Alice Walker's Everyday Use History in the Making Heritage is something that comes to or belongs to one by reason of birth. This may be the way it is defined in the dictionary, but everyone has their own beliefs and ideas of what shapes their heritage. In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, these different views are very evident by the way Dee (Wangero) and Mrs. Johnson (Mama) see the world and the discrepancy of who