“Everyday Use”, by Alice Walker, and “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, by Flannery O’Connor are two stories which both incorporate important themes about family history and how that history contributes to a person’s identity. “Everyday Use” shows how family history defines us and “Everything That Rises Must Converge” represents how family can reinforce the belief in our identities and views of self worth.
There are undeniable similarities between both of the stories in how family is viewed and represented. In “Everyday Use”, Dee tries to reject her family heritage by changing her name even though she knows very well that she was named after her aunt Dicie. Similarly, in “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, Julian in a way rejects his own heritage and is embarrassed any time that his mother brings it up. The main characters Dee and Julian are very similar in that they do not fully grasp the importance of their families. In the story they both claim that their mothers simply do not understand their heritage. However, both mothers in either story do in fact see the true value of their family backgrounds and they both recognize where they came from and the struggles that they faced to get to where they are now.
In other ways however, the two separate themes represented by these two stories do not coincide. For mama and Maggie in “Everyday Use” their family traditions are built simply on inherited objects and ways of thinking whereas in “Everything That Rises Must Converge” the mother’s sense of family is held on to only by the pleasant memories of her past.
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