Everyday Use Essay

1422 words - 6 pages

Jenny CalleProfessor Davinder SanghaJuly 8, 2014My HeritageHeritage is valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions, unspoiled countryside, historic buildings, and properties among others that have been passed down from previous generations. As unique individuals, we view and appreciate heritage in different ways. "Everyday Use," written by Alice Walker, is about an African American family which is formed by Mama and her two daughters, Dee and Maggie. The sisters claim two quilts as their ancient heritage to their mom. They have two different viewpoints with regards to the idea of heritage. Dee views her real heritage as dead, something of the past, rather than as a living, ongoing creation. She has set herself outside her own history, rejecting her real heritage in favor of a constructed one. On the other hand, Mama and Maggie see the family objects as being infused with the presence of the people who made and used them. Despite Dee's personality and education, Maggie deserves to keep the quilts because she appreciates them as family memories.Dee and Maggie want the quilts which are a symbol of their family heritage; however, their feelings about them are different because Dee does not understand her past, and Maggie knows about her past. Their grandmother made the quilts by hand which makes them unique. There are two special quilts, "Lone Star pattern" and "Walk Around the Mountain" (164). As the mother sees them, she remembers and says, "In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell's Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece . . . that was from Great Grandpa Ezra's uniform that he wore in the Civil War" (164). So these quilts, which have become valuable, not only represent the family; they are also an important part of the family. To Dee, the quilts are an old-fashioned art form. Dee explains her mother what she is going to do with the quilts and says, "Hang them" (165). Her desire is to hang them because she feels admiration for them, and it is the only thing that she can do with them. She just wants to put the quilts on the wall and other people can see them. She does not want to use them because she considers they are "priceless" (165). On the other hand, Mama and Maggie respect the quilts and consider them more than that. Mama and Maggie feel that the quilts are family remembrances, personal and special reminders of the people who they loved and who are gone. Mama says, "It was Grandma Dee and Big Dee who taught her how to quilt herself" (165). Mama explains Dee that Maggie loves the quilts because she knows how they were made. Maggie's grandmother taught her how to make the quilts and Maggie uses them every single day.Despite being sisters, Dee and Maggie have different connection with the family heritage because their lives, personality, and ideas that concern about the quilts. When Maggie was a child, she was burned in a house fire. For that,...

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