Pieces of fabric stitched together, to us, may seem like a quilt used to cover oneself for warmth. However, in Everyday Use a quilt is used to symbolize the family heritage passed down from generation to generation. Symbolism is when an object such as a crucifix is used to depictsomething greater like a religion and not justa piece of wood. A crucifix can also be used to represent the pain held by man and the heavy burden we carry each day. Many authors, including Alice Walker, use symbolism in order to get the reader to have a sense of deeper meaning within the story. The character Deestruggles to understand that “the people behind the quilts are what’s important” (Eshbaugh) and not just a piece of art to be hanged on a wall.
In her strikinglywell-kept yard, Mama Johnson and her daughter Maggie await the arrival of Maggie’s sister Dee, who went off to become successful in a big city. Dee’s always been the daughter to shine brightest considering the fact that Maggie was severely burned and scarred in a house fire. The fire scarred Maggie physically andhad “likewise scarred her soul” (Velasquez).Maggie’s scars caused her to feel self-conscious and inferior to hersister Dee. Mama expects Dee’s visit, to be like those reunions she sees on shows including the show with a “sporty man like Johnny Carson” (Walker 715).To Mama’s surprise her daughter’s visit happens to be a tragicmoment when Dee becomes greedy and asks for items from the house to use as decor in her city home. Dee’s lack of understanding family heritage causes Mama and Maggie to be faced with family
division. In the end, after Dee had requested the family quilt,Mama made the decision to give the quilt to Maggie which was promised to her for her marriage.
Many article writers would agree that Alice Walker stresses the importance of heritage by using objects such as the family quilt to symbolize something preeminent. Although the quilt is used to represent the rich family heritage that is to be passed from generation to generation, it causes the Johnson family division along with pain.
Dee Johnson, also known as Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, was brought up from humble roots but sprouted off into a boastful life which caused her to be greedy, demanding and excessively rude. Dee has always had it easy in life compared to her sister Maggie. Her beauty and youthful radiance was always cherished by all, making it impossible for people to deny her the things she desired. A trait of Dee’s which stuck out like a sore thumb was that she always wanted to be right no matter how wrong she was. Dee felt she understood her heritage but Eshbaugh would agree that “Dee [couldn’t] see that the people behind the quilts are what [was] important” she only saw them as art work to be hanged in her ample home back in the big city. Shewas clueless as to what it meant to truly cherish one’s heritage.
Dee was not alone though when it came to not understanding her heritage. Hakim-a-Barber was also guilty...