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Understanding One’s Values And Heritage Essay

1898 words - 8 pages

In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, she describes a person’s legacy as particularly useful and sacred through quilting. Walker is an American writer who is best known for her novel The Color Purple, which won an Academy Award in 1985 after it was made into a movie. Dee and Maggie grew up in the same household nurtured by the same mother. The sisters’ exposure to the same values aided in their expressions of maturity differently. A person’s values and the roots of their culture evolve incidentally as they are taught and by what they value historic and sacred. A person’s values originate from their exposures growing up.
Walker writes this story with Mama being the raconteur. Mama has no education; is exceptionally large and stout with a not so amusing tongue. Mama is truly sagacious, proud and carefree. She loves both her daughters. As Dee and Maggie were growing up, Mama tried teaching them the importance of their identities and ancestry. Maggie agrees with her Mama on the importance of her heritage. Maggie sees the importance of taking the time to learn how to execute the common domestic activities in life, such as learning to make a quilt. Dee has no thoughts about domestic labor. The phrase “Everyday Use” shows that (Mama, Maggie, and Dee (Wangero)) had their own views about family heritage.
Dee is an adult woman that comes back home for a visit. She has a determination without uncertainty. Dee advises Mama that her name is now Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. When Mama inquired about the name change, Dee states, “She’s dead,” “I couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me” (Walker 111). Dee (Wangero) gets her name from her Mama’s sister and grandmother. Wangero does not value her lineage of passed down family names. Wangero sees her birth name Dee as a reminder of denied authentic names for African Americans. Cowart goes on to say that Wangero even seems to have alienated herself from the family and her rural origins (Cowart 172).
Wangero delights in seeing the benches her daddy shaped for the eating table is still used. Wangero exclaims “the benches are beautiful while rubbing her hands over and across them feeling butt imprints” (Walker 112). While scanning the room, Wangero sees Grandma Dee’s butter dish and churn top and desires them. She wants the dasher too. Looking at the dasher closely, Wangero can see that it is depleted many times through the years. She admires it longingly as if she were waiting for a picture to develop.
After dinner, Wangero goes through Mama’s trunk and pulls out two quilts sewn together by Grandma Dee. The patterns in the quilts come from scraps of dresses that her grandmother wore over 50 years ago. A little blue piece from both her grandpa’s Civil War uniform era and paisley shirts reside in the quilts. There is detail expressed in each person’s situation, trials and travels of life. The quilts tell stories from generations of generations that when woven together formed these...

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