This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Importance Of Heritage In "Everyday Use"

1035 words - 4 pages

In “Everyday Use ” by Alice Walker the exact setting is never revealed and therefore, can only be guessed, but it has been guessed that the story takes place on a country side in Georgia. At one point in the story Augusta is mentioned. The time is also estimated to be during the Civil Rights Movement around the year of 1973. Mrs. Johnson, along with her two daughters, reside in a small three room house, and take pride in there small yard. As Maggie and Dee grow older they start to realize how important their heritage, and family heirlooms are, Maggie in particular. Maggie has made her mother promise to give her the quilts when she becomes old enough. However, Dee wants to hang the quilts up so they can be admired as if they are artifacts. Mrs. Johnson desperately tries to teach her two daughters the importance of keeping their African American heritage alive.
Mrs. Johnson narrates the story and is described as a “strong, loving mother”,(www.sparknotes.com) but also “gentle and stern”. (www.sparknotes.com) Mama takes the role of the man of the house as well as having to be the mother. For example, in one afternoon she killed, slaughtered, and hung the meat of young calf all by herself and even though she can do these types of labors, Mrs. Johnson is a very humble lady who is quite satisfied living her modest life style. Dee, on the other hand, is described as an “object of jealousy, awe and imagination”. (www.sparknotes.com) She is so very different from her mother and sister. She changed her name from Dee to Wangero. In part, due to the fact that she feels Dee was a white person's name. Mama Johnson assures Dee that she is not named after a white man, and that she was named after her grandmother. Dee chooses to embrace an alternate lifestyle, from the time she is young. She never is quite like her mom or her sister. She is beautiful, confident and comes across as insensitive and arrogant. Dee argues with her mother that she wants the family quilts that had been tucked away in a chest. The ones her mother had promised to her younger sister Maggie. Dee tells her mother that Maggie is naïve enough to put their precious family heirlooms to “everyday use”, (www.enotes.com) when she knew they belonged in a special showcase for people to see. Maggie was always the quiet type who preferred to be at home. Maggie “is a figure of purity, uncorrupted by selfishness or complex emotional needs” (www.sparknotes.com) who wishes to be untouched by the outside world.
The family quilts that Maggie were supposed to inherit were used as symbolism in the story. The quilts symbolize the “bonds between women of different generations and their enduring legacy”,(www.enotes.com) and “culture and heritage”. (www.suite101.com) Maggie understands the history and relationship tied into each and every quilt whereas Dee does not. Maggie and her mama think the quilts “are pieces of living history, documents in fabric that...

Find Another Essay On The Importance of Heritage in "Everyday Use"

Walker's Message of Personal Heritage in "Everyday Use"

1970 words - 8 pages Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is a short story about a mother and two very different daughters set in rural Georgia during the late 1960’s. The plot is centered around on the two daughters, Dee and Maggie, and focusing on the differences between the two and who will gain possession of two hand-made quilts that are seen as a coveted trophy by Dee and are viewed as everyday items Maggie. The final decision of which daughter ultimately receives

The Views of Heritage based upon the book Everyday Use

2278 words - 9 pages Through the differing family members and views in "Everyday Use", author Alice Walker demonstrates the importance of understanding our present lives in relation to the traditions of the people in our families and culture that comes from them. “The story is reflecting the times in which they were written and the particular cultural heritage out of which Walker writes” (Messud). Using descriptions and viewpoints from the characters

The Importance of Personal Identity in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

765 words - 4 pages Author Alice Walker, displays the importance of personal identity and the significance of one’s heritage. These subjects are being addressed through the characterization of each character. In the story “Everyday Use”, the mother shows how their daughters are in completely two different worlds. One of her daughter, Maggie, is shy and jealous of her sister Dee and thought her sister had it easy with her life. She is the type that would stay around

“Everyday Use”: Heritage

960 words - 4 pages In “Everyday Use”, Alice Walker is exploring the concept of heritage as it applies to African-Americans. It appears to be set in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. This was the time when African-Americans were struggling to define their personal identities. Many blacks who had stories of pain and injustice wanted to rediscover their African roots, and they were denying their American heritage to do so. In “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker argues that an

Adopted Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

1722 words - 7 pages        Each of us is raised within a culture, a set of traditions handed down by those before us. As individuals, we view and experience common heritage in subtly differing ways. Within smaller communities and families, deeply felt traditions serve to enrich this common heritage. Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" explores how, in her eagerness to claim an ancient heritage, a woman may deny herself the substantive personal experience of familial

Accepting One's Heritage in "Everyday Use"

1083 words - 4 pages Author Alice Walker is an African American woman who grew up in the rural south during segregation, as is the narrator in "Everyday Use", Ms. Johnson. Walker feels that one's name should be revered for its symbol of ancestry, as she did when she took back her maiden name to honor her great-great-great-grandmother. In Walker's "Everyday Use," she uses a symbolic quilt to express the differences of understanding one's heritage within a single

Rejecting Heritage: Wangero's Greed Illustrated in Walker's, Everyday Use

1655 words - 7 pages , most people forget the real value of these items, however, and commercialize them as art or sell them away as junk in garage sales. In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” we are shown a vivid example of what can happen when people take these once treasured items for granted. Walker’s character Dee/Wangero is an estranged daughter and sister who has not seen her family for six years reappears at her mother’s home to take away her family’s most

The Theme of Heritage in “Everday Use”

1544 words - 6 pages In her late twentieth-century short story “Everyday Use,” African-American writer Alice Walker contrasts the struggle between the main characters involving the recurring theme. The story takes place in a rural Georgia setting during the 1970s. The plot circulates around Mama, Maggie, and Dee. Throughout, heritage develops and remains a central theme revolving them. Each of these women in the Johnson family tries to stay true to heritage

The Use of Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1879 words - 8 pages 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

The Usability of Symbolism in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

1621 words - 6 pages her heritage from the attire she wore to the fact that she switched her name from Dee to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. She brought false hopes of heritage and misinterprets the whole process of being African American. Authors tend to always use symbolism and try to mix it in the writing, so you can go on a scavenger hunt and find them yourself. That scavenger hunt was made by Alice Walker and she threw it on the characters in many different ways

The Character of Mama in Alice Walker’s Everyday Use

938 words - 4 pages “I am a large, big boned woman with rough, man-working hands” Mama describes of herself in the short story Everyday Use by Alice Walker. Mama, who additionally takes the role of narrator, is a lady who comes from a wealth of heritage and tough roots. She is never vain, never boastful and most certainly never selfish. She speaks only of her two daughters who she cares deeply for. She analyzes the way she has raised them and how much she has cared

Similar Essays

The Implication Of Heritage In “Everyday Use”

1207 words - 5 pages The conflict in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" surrounds the idea of heritage, and how important it is to a family. Heritage helps to develop principles, which in turn show what a person believes in, specifically relating to the morals, ethics, and values of his or her family. Mrs. Johnson, Dee/Wangero's and Maggie's mother, is the narrator of this story, and it is evident at the beginning of the story, when she

The Meaning Of Heritage In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

994 words - 4 pages The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use     Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," is a story about a poor, African-American family and a conflict about the word "heritage." In this short story, the word "heritage" has two meanings. One meaning for the word "heritage" represents family items, thoughts, and traditions passed down through the years. The other meaning for the word "heritage" represents the African-American culture

Definition Of Heritage In "Everyday Use"

552 words - 2 pages everyday use.”(Walker 65). The fact that Dee will only hang them on walls defines the proper use of the quilts. The differences in attitude that Dee and Maggie portray about their heritage are seen early in the story. When the family's house burned down ten or twelve years ago, Maggie was deeply affected by the tragedy of losing her home where she grew up. As her mother describes, "She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in

Theme Of Heritage In Walker's Everyday Use

1616 words - 6 pages "Growing up in Different Eras of time and disparities between the quality of education affect peoples’ perception of heritage." "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker was an inspiring story of family and heritage. Simplicity against complexity. The old ways and the new ways. It was about people fighting for change and