The Struggle to Understand Heritage in First-generation Americans Brandon Williams
Indian River State College
April 20, 2011
Alice Walker’s "Everyday Use" and Amy Tan’s “A Pair of Tickets” investigate the relationships between mothers and daughters. Both writers show a struggle, by the children, to understand the true meaning of heritage. Each story has a specific type of mother-daughter relationship.
Mother and Daughter Conflict:
The Struggle to Understand Heritage in First-generation Americans
A key factor in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” and Amy Tan’s “A Pair of Tickets,” is heritage. Throughout both stories the use of heritage can be seen easily. Walker shows Dee misunderstands her heritage while Tan shows Jing-Mei comes to an understanding. Understanding both sides of the two stories gives readers a chance to explore their own heritage and reflect on how they accept their past. By contrasting the family characters in “Everyday Use,” Walker illustrates Dee’s misunderstanding of her heritage by placing the significance of heritage solely on material objects. Walker presents Mama and Maggie, the younger daughter, as an example that heritage in both knowledge and form passing from one generation to another through a learning experience connection. Dee, the older daughter, represents a misconception of heritage as a material thing. Dee portrays a rags to riches daughter who does not understand what heritage is all about. Her definition of heritage hangs on a wall to show off, not to be used. Dee’s avoidance of heritage becomes clear when she is talking to Mama about changing her name, she says, “I couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me” (Walker 746). Dee just takes another name without even understanding the true meaning behind it....