Analysis of Everyday Use

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In “Everyday Use”, Walker began to discuss principles of tradition and ancestry. When Dee was a child she hated her surroundings and culture. Mama indirectly says that Dee burned down the family’s old home. Dee also used to say that she hated her grandmothers’ handmade quilts. The irony in the story is that Dee arrives back home to take pictures of her family’s house and to retrieve back the old quilts that she supposedly hated. Walker is trying to tell the reader that one should embrace the past for good purposes instead of separating it from your family. In Dee’s early childhood, Mama indirectly implies that the burnt house could have been caused by Dee. During the fire Mama, and Maggie were in panic getting out but Dee sat outside with “[a] look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red-hot brick chimney” (2). When Dee arrives back home, she quickly takes out her Polaroid to take endless pictures of the shack Mama and Maggie live in. The irony is that Dee comes back home and is proud of where she comes from but in a different sense. I find that Dee isn’t true to herself because she embraces her past now just because is it in fashion to cherish African American heritage. Dee implies that her house made her who she is when really she neglected her past when it wasn’t in style. The reader can assume that Maggie actually understands the true meaning of cherishing one’s heritage. When Dee arrives home, she asks for the quilts that at one point she refused to keep. Dee is angered that the quilts were to be passed on to Maggie and says, “[Maggie is] backward enough to put the quilts to everyday use” (6). What Dee does not understand is that Maggie would actually use them for a good purpose instead of hanging it up on a wall. Maggie would preserve the quilts that were passed on through generations of her family. Walker suggests that she feels the importance for the quilts but she...
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