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

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 value. But different roles of heritage exist between each woman, so their ways of achieving this mission differs. The story “Everyday Use” exemplifies the various understandings and use of heritage through Mama, Maggie, and Dee.
To highlight her heritage theme, Walker displays how the character Mama considers the name of Dee. Dee changes her name and Mama has a will of whether or not to use it. Throughout, Mama uses Dee and Wangero interchangeably. As David Cowart writes, Mrs. Johnson is confused and cannot commit herself to the new name. She tries to have it both ways, referring to her daughter now by one name, now by the other . . . (Cowart 1 of 7). As the narrator, Mama employs the new or original name for a reason. Carol Andrews observes that Mama administers Wangero when she is denying the view Dee has because unlike Dee she understands what the quilts represent. “Snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero’s hands . . .” (“EU” qtd. in Andrews 3 of 4). Mama explains the connection of the name Dee to female ancestors. “You know as well as me, you was named after your aunt Dicie . . . I probably could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches” (“EU” 89). Helga Hoel writes that Mama is amazed that Dee would give up her name, “for Dee was the name of her great-grandmother, a woman who kept the family together against all odds” (3 of 5). Mama knows the family significance of the name and tries to express it to Dee.
Along with the name of Dee, Mama emphasizes heritage through the quilts. “The mother understands that the quilts represent her family heritage because they are composed of pieces of the lives of previous generations” (Andrews 3 of 4). Mama feels the true meaning of the family quilts. The quilts represent tradition. Critic David Cowart reiterates the quote of Barbara Christian which is “heritage . . . must continually be renewed rather than fixed in the past”. Thus for mother heritage is living tradition manifested through homely skills, such as quilt-making, passed on (Cowart 4 of 7). Mama denies Dee of possessing the quilts and “feels like she was touched by the spirit of God in church” (Farrell 4 of 5). She chooses Maggie to have the symbolic quilts over Dee. By selecting Maggie Mrs. Johnson recognizes the quilt connection with her (Piedmont-Marton 9 of 13). Mama realizes that heritage must be kept up because “the art will die if women like Maggie do not keep it up” (Cowart 4 of 7). Values of both daughters become factors during the decision Mama makes. “The...

Find Another Essay On The Theme of Heritage in “Everday Use”

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

Describe how the theme of Heritage fits into several pieces of ethnic literature. "Heritage"

1266 words - 5 pages To each person, the word heritage means something a little different. In our readings, we looked at seven works that all focused on heritage.?Everyday Use? by Alice Walker is a story about how to truly appreciate one?s heritage. The mother and sister, Maggie, live in the same style of house their family has always lived in. Poor and uneducated, they live simply, as their family always has. Maggie?s sister, Dee, who has an education and only

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

1970 words - 8 pages in touch with one’s heritage. Maggie deserves the quilts because she appreciates the practical value of the items and would naturally use them as they were intended. Like her grandmother, Maggie is a person who values the quilts more as a practical solution for staying warm at night than as folk art which should be displayed in a museum. Dee’s thoughts of her simple-minded sister come into full light during a conversation with

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 Use of Trickery:, A Theme in the Novel: The Life of Frederick Douglass

911 words - 4 pages Some people deceive others into doing their bidding for them, while others trick for the jokes that come out of it; however, some may claim the need to trick is a requirement to survive. In Frederick Douglass’s Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass utilizes the ability to play the game of trickery to convey his journey to freedom. Through the use of anecdotes, appeal to pathos, and figurative language, Douglass expresses the

The Theme of Estrangement, Feminism and the Use of Symbolism in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing

1471 words - 6 pages Palacký UniversityFaculty of PhilosophyEnglish PhilologyThe Theme of Estrangement, Feminism and the Use of Symbolism in Margaret Atwood's SurfacingKAA/CS00Ondřej Andrle11th May 2014 The goal of this essay is to highlight a variety of themes in the novel Surfacing, as well as show the influence of Canada's cultural and geographic values on this book. The novel, presents notions of national and gendered identity, and stirred up

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

Theme Enhancement through the Use of Motif in The Scarlet Letter

601 words - 2 pages In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne used many profound and important motifs. Some examples of this device that is portrayed in the novel are the letter 'A', which is the best example because it changes its meaning throughout the story. In the beginning, it is viewed as a symbol of sin, and throughout the novel changes its meaning.The letter is a label of punishment and sin in the commencement of the novel. It is a literal symbol of the

How Does Shakespeare Use Imagery To Develop The Theme Of Ambition In Macbeth

614 words - 3 pages In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, he explored many different issues, such as ambitions and appearance and reality. Many clever techniques were used to present these themes, for example contrast imagery and the use of characters.For presenting the theme ambition, Shakespeare used contrast in the character Macbeth. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is a good person. Lady Macbeth described him as being "too full of the milk of human

The Heritage of "None"

774 words - 4 pages face value as being insulting she dove deeper and found meaning in it as it could be "a reminder of a genuine heritage" (Ehrenreich 48). For those of the author's audience like myself this defense helps in getting them more on her side. This epiphany is also what leads Ehrenreich down a new path, a path that says it's okay not to have a cultural or religious background. The meat of the paragraph finally develops here. After establishing an

Similar Essays

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

The Importance Of Heritage In "Everyday Use"

1035 words - 4 pages environment”. The theme of “Everyday Use” is to appreciate your past. (www.bookrags.com) It is who you are and who you will become later in life. Dee has chosen a new heritage for herself and rejected her real African American heritage. She fails to see the family legacy of her given name and takes on a new name, Wangero, which she believes more accurately represents her African heritage. She has little true understanding of Africa, so what

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