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Everyday Use By Alice Walker Essay

967 words - 4 pages

Myeisha WalkerEnglish 1102H. PapaganJune 24, 2014In "Everyday Use", Alice Walker tells the story of a mother and her two daughters' conflicting ideas about their identities and ancestry. She personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Mama, Dee, and Maggie, with each of them having different qualities and views on life. Mama is a simple, countrywoman who values her culture and heritage for its everyday use as well as its personal significance by living and doing simple things in life. Maggie is the shy, passive sister who is similar to mama in her simple way of life. Dee represents a materialistic and modern way of life. She doesn't value the usefulness of her culture and heritage like Mama and Maggie. She values it more for its artistic appeal.Although the three women are one family, their perspectives in life differ. Mama is proud of who she is and is comfortable with the life she is living. Material things aren't a must for her. However, Dee's outlook is different. She's in control of her life and believes in living it to the fullest. Mama tells of how "Dee wanted nice things" (Walker 2) and how she pretty much get what she wants. This attitude shows in the story when she insists on taking the churn top and the dasher and then the old quilts, which Mama has promised to give to Maggie. In comparison to Dee, like Mama, Maggie accepts her life as it is.Their views of heritage differ as well. Mama and Maggie have a strong belief in their heritage and they value their family's tradition. Mama sees heritage in the practical things and as a string of memories. When she gives the quilts to Maggie, she hopes that Maggie will put it to everyday use. When Dee admires the benches, Mama reminisces that Dee's daddy made the benches, "when they couldn't afford to buy chairs" (Walker 4). To Mama, the fondness of history in this memory is her affection for her husband. Maggie cherishes memories and traditions. When they are discussing the churn, she explains, "Aunt Dee's first husband whittled the dash", and that, "his name was Henry, but they called him Stash" (Walker 5). It is likely that she learns this information from Mama and stores it in her memory as part of her idea of history. She values the quilts for what they mean to her as an individual. When she says, "I can 'member Grandma Dee without the quilts" (Walker 6). It implies that her connection with the quilts is personal and emotional. It means a lot to her because of the people they represent and not merely because of the concept that they were stitched by hand. In contrast, Dee believes that traditions are about African culture and wants nothing to do with her family's heritage until it...

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