Everyday Use Essay

950 words - 4 pages

Cultural Conflict in Everyday Use In short story "Everyday Use" of Alice Walker present the different sides of culture and heritage between of two characters of Dee (Wangero) and her mother (the narrator). Dee can be seen to represent a materialistic, complex, and modern way of life where culture and heritage are to be valued only for their "trendy-ness" and artistic appeal. On the other hand, the mother character represents a traditional, simple, and practical way of life where culture and heritage are valued both for its usefulness as well as its personal significance.The story clearly endorses Mama's simple, unsophisticated, and show disdain for Dee's materialistic connection to her heritage. This demonstrated from the outset of the story, we learn very quickly that the mother has inherited many customs and traditions from her ancestors. Mama describes herself as "a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands" (116). Not only that, she also describes how she "can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man". It is Walker's intention to show that through her heritage, Mother can do all the things her predecessors could because none of these things are particularly glamorous. This part of her heritage makes her tough and independent. As we read Walker's descriptions, we admire Mrs. Johnson's self-sufficiency. Through Mama's point of view, we see she is proud of her ability to do these things, but so much in a way that she thinks her ability to do these things makes her better than others.Maggie, the second daughter, is presented in the familiar way. Like her mother, she is not physically attractive or stylish like Dee (her sister). Her body is covered with burn scars and her walking is described like a lame dog (117). But Maggie, like her mother, has many things that Dee does not. Maggie actually knows the family history and like mother, possesses skills that have been passed down through the family. In one part of the story, when the family is discussing the origin of the dasher, it is Maggie who knows where it comes from "" "Aunt Dee's first husband whittled the dash...His name was Henry, but they called him Stash." (120).On the other hand, mother describes Dee as being light skinned, with nice hair and a full figure (117). When Dee first comes to visit the family, she's wearing a long dress, even though the weather is very hot. We get the impression that Dee is more occupied with aesthetic appearances rather than practicality. The dress is also gaudy, colored with enough yellow and orange "to throw back the light of the sun". Dee is also wearing numerous pieces of jewelry, earrings and bracelets.Beside the description of Dee, the significance of Dee's "name change" to Wangero that seems to symbolize Dee's...

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