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Heritage in Everday Use by Alice Walker

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Introduction

Heritage Are there priceless memorabilia in your family that have been passed down from generation to generation that you hope, someday, will be passed unto you? What type of significance does this priceless heirloom or skill represent about your heritage? In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, a mother promises a handmade quilt to her youngest daughter Maggie, on the day of her marriage. However, Dee tells her mother and Maggie that they do not understand their heritage, because they plan to put the priceless quilts to 'everyday use'. Evidence in the story makes obvious that Dee is the one who misunderstands her own heritage, resulting in the mother's decision to give Maggie the quilt. The issue with Dee's name change presents a good example of her misunderstanding. Dee has changed her name to "Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo"(328) ...read more.

Middle

Another instance that shows Dee's confusion of her heritage, surfaces in her thoughts toward the quilts and other household items. Although Dee refuses the names of her heritage, she admires their handmade items, such as the handmade bench made when the family couldn't afford to buy chairs for the table (329). It never occurs to Dee that the quilts and the handmade heirlooms are symbols of oppression, as she also says of her name. It goes the show that her appreciations for household items tend to be handmade, rather than any real meaning of her heritage. Also, before she went away to college, she was offered a quilt. However, she turned it down saying it was "old-fashioned, and out of style,"(330). ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead of telling them about their heritage, she wanted to have them live it. Since Grandma Dee and Big Dee taught Maggie how to quilt, it was only fair to have Maggie receive the quilts, because "this was the way she knew God to work," (330). This was their heritage. Yet, Dee did not understand this, and that is why she blames her mother and sister for not understanding their heritage (331). Overall, the story proved how Dee was confused of her own heritage, and illustrated the mother's idea of what heritage is. What Dee understands is the history and heritage of others, yet has not arrived at a stage of self- understanding. Therefore, if Dee were to receive the quilts and hang them, she would be hanging up their heritage with it, and ending their heritage for herself and her future children. ?? ?? ?? ?? Merino 1 ...read more.

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