Comparing Culture In Everyday Use, A&P, And Blue Winds Dancing

1583 words - 6 pages

Culture in Everyday Use, A & P, and Blue Winds Dancing  

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 occurs among Dee, mother, and Maggie over culture and heritage. Mother is content with their heritage. A clash over culture ensues when Dee is not. This conflict is over whether one should live her heritage like Maggie and mother, or use her heritage, like Dee. In fact, the narrator seems to indicate that she feels Dee is just doing what is trendy when she thinks, "I didn't bring up how I had offered Dee {Wangero} a quilt when she went away to college. Then she told me they were old-fashioned, out of style" (89). Adding to the conflict are occupational, social, and age differences among the mother and Dee and Hakim-a-Barber, Dee's acquaintnace. The latter are young socialites who are attending college a ways away. The narrator, on the other hand, is an old, burley farm woman who claims to have "knocked a bull calf strait in the brain between the eyes with a sledge-hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall" (84). Hakim-a-barber sees things differently. He says, " ... farming and raising cattle is not my style" (88). These differences contribute to the conflict as the young and old do not see eye-to-eye. When these conflicts are resolved, a theme that one should live his culture, rather than using it to...

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