Essay, Research Paper: Alice Walker


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Knowing the meaning of heritage in Everyday Use The story “Everyday Use”, is
being told by a mother who describes herself as a big boned woman, with a second
grade education. She had always had to do the work of a man to provide for her
family. A mother of two girls with different views on the family culture. Dee, a
light skinned girl with nice hair and a full figure. Dee has always scorned the
way the family lived. She comes home to visit and wants to take back some of the
family heritage, such as Grandma Dee’s quilts. Maggie, a dark skinned, slim
and shy girl, who has never been away from home. Maggie has a different love for
the family heritage she will continue to carry it on, like quilting. While Dee
and Maggie lived in the same house growing up, they have different believes
about their heritage. Two women sat in the yard awaiting a visit from the older
daughter, Dee, and a man who may are may not be husband. Dee, was very hard on
the family’s way of life, has gone to college and now seems to be a distant
memory. Her mother imagines of being reunited with her daughter on television.
She visions the perfect reunion someone would tell her what a fine daughter she
has raised. Dee would come out in tears embracing her mother and pinning and
orchid on her dress. Maggie, who is not bright and bears scars from a server
house fire many years ago still, remains intimidated by her glamorous sibling.
Her mother was astonished; Dee arrive wearing an ankle-length, gold and orange
dress, bracelets and gold earrings hanging down to her shoulders. Her hair “it
stand straight up like hair the wool on a sheep”(Walker 283). Dee greets her
family with a Swahili good morning. Her companion offers a Muslim greeting and
tries to show Maggie a ceremonial handshake that she does not understand. Dee
mother tried to start a conversation with Dee by calling her name. Dee explain
that she’s change her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, because “I
couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress
me”(Walker 283). Wangero mother attempted to explain to her how far back her
name go into the family history. Dee had been embarrass of her mothers house and
possessions when she was younger (the mother believe she was happy when the old
house burn down), but now she seem to be happy with the old way of life. With
her newfound joy with her cultural heritage, she takes photographs of the house,
including her mom, sister, and a wandering cow. Dee, while eating, remembered
she wanted to ask her mother if she could have the butter churn top whittled by
her Uncle Buddy, do she may use it as a centerpiece for her table. Dee, after
getting the churn top, she then ask for the dasher. Now her attention turns to a
trunk at the foot of her mother’s bed. After she goes through the trunk, she
returns with two quilts. “The quilts become symbolic of the story’s theme;
in a sense, they represent the past of the women in the family”(Master Plots
733). Dee asks if she can have the quilts. Maggie in disbelief that Dee asked
for the quilts slammed the kitchen door. The mother offers some other quilts
that were in the trunk to her, she refused because the quilts because they were
made with a machine. Then she tells Dee that she had promised the quilts to
Maggie a wedding present. Dee tells her mother that Maggie would not appreciate
the quilts and that she would use them in “everyday use”. Dee’s mother
says she hope Maggie would use the quilts. “The two sister’s values
concerning the quilt represent the two meaning approaches to art appreciation in
our society. Art can be valued for financial and aesthetic reasons, or it can be
valued for personal and emotional reasons”(Jokinen)
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