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Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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  • October 1999
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People identify themselves by their colour, culture, language or religion. The identity goes back to generations and it doesn’t start or change within the individual. It is an evolutionary process where each person brings upon some changes. This is best described in Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use”, where three characters, a mother and two daughters, are portrayed differently, each with its different qualities and philosophies on life that are often seen in generations.

Heritage is an important part of a person’s life. It tells the person where it came from and helps the person reach its destiny, almost like a road map. In this story, Dee has trouble understanding the meaning of heritage. Instead of using it to complement her life into the right direction, she puts it on display. For example, when she and her mate come home, they start taking pictures of the house and everything around it. “She stoops down quickly and lines up picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me. She never takes a shot without making sure the house is included. When a cow comes nibbling around the edge of the yard she snaps it and me and Maggie and the house.” (2243)

A second representation of her misunderstanding was when she was having lunch with the family. This describes how she never appreciated this bench until she is able to portray it as a piece of art. “Everything delighted her. Even the fact that we still used the benches her daddy made for the table when we couldn’t afford to buy chairs. ‘Oh, Mama!’ she cried. Then turned to Hakim-a-barber. ‘I never knew how lovely these benches are. You can feel the rump prints,’ she said, running her hands underneath her and along the bench.” (2242)

Dee gets irritated when her mother refuses to grant her permission to keep the quilts and tries to explain to her mother that these quilts...

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