Everday Use Essay

947 words - 4 pages

In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use” she creates a conflict between characters. Walker describes a family as they anxiously await the arrival of, Dee, the older sister of the family. When Dee (Wangero) comes home to visit Mrs. Johnson and Maggie, right away the readers see the differences in the family by how they talk, act, and dress. Dee has changed her name to an "African" name and is collecting the objects and materials of her past. Dee thinks that since she is in college she knows mores then the rest of her uneducated family. She is more educated and looks down on the simple life of her mother and sister. When Dee asks for a beautiful family heirloom quilt to hang on her wall, Mrs. Johnson ...view middle of the document...

She does not understand how her mother and Maggie can continue to live in such a backwards way. By giving the quilt to Maggie, Mama shows that she understands the importance of heritage. To appreciate and use objects passed on in families is completely different than to hang them on display while they are popular and worth money, then throw them away. Dee has become educated and she is no longer able to separate her family and heritage from her ideas on art. She is more interested in the most recent fad on her background then to realize that she should be focusing on her poor family.
Alice Walker shows the importance of heritage through her use of irony. For example, Dee changes her name to Wangero to reflect the new fad of "getting in touch with African heritage." However, the name Dee already has comes from her heritage. As Mrs. Johnson says, "You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie. Dicie is my sister. She named you Dee." (Walker) Dee has the education to understand the history of her people, but the irony is that she is missing the people standing right in front of her. She just doesn't get it that Mrs. Johnson and Maggie are the most important parts of her heritage. Even Hakim-a-barber has converted to Islam but chooses only to accept certain doctrines of this religion and the black power movement when he refuses to eat collard greens and pork. As he says, "I accept some of their doctrines, but farming and raising cattle is not my style." (Walker) The irony is that it may not be the "style" of Mrs. Johnson and Maggie either, but it is the...

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