"Everyday Use": Todays view on Culture and Heritage
In "Everyday Use," Alice Walker tells a story of a mother's conflicted relationship with her two daughters. At face value the story tells of "Mama" gradually denying the superficial values or her elder, more socially accepted, daughter "Dee," and begins to favor the more practical views of her less fortunate daughter "Maggie." As clear a story as this may seem, there are many undercurrents open to a deeper interpretation. The story as a whole, was a good one, and seemingly aimed at an African American audience. I personally thoroughly enjoyed the story, both for its rich characterization, and the ideals which it represents.
Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" tells a story set in the years between 1960-1975. During this time, masses of people participated in movements by the African-American community at large for "Black Power." As prevalent as these movements were, many followers neglected to acknowledge the exists of their shared African and American heritage. The character "Dee," or "Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo" as she asks to be known, shows this neglect many times, the following passage displays one such happening in the story.
""No, Mama," she says. "Not 'Dee,' Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!" "What happened to 'Dee'?" I wanted to know.
"She's dead," Wangero said. "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me." Page 2
"You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie," I said. Dicie is my sister. She named Dee. We called her "Big Dee" after Dee was born. "But who was she named after?" asked Wangero.
"I guess after Grandma Dee," I said.
"And who was she named after?" asked Wangero.
"Her mother," I said, and saw Wangero was getting tired. "That's about as far back as I can trace it," I said. Though, in fact, I probably could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches."
In this portion of the story, the viewpoint of the narrator, "Mama" is...
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