The Idea of Cultural Heritage in Everday Use

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Table of contents

Introduction 2

Dee's Idea of Cultural Heritage 3

Maggie's Idea of Cultural Heritage 4
Quilt as a Symbol of Cultural Heritage 5

Conclusion 6



The short story “Everyday Use“ by Alice Walker, from the collection In Love and Trouble, published in 1973, was written during the Black Power Movement in 1960's. During this period, African-Americans were trying to reach equality in American society. African-American literature dealt with the problematic issues of integration, separation and the redefinition of the African heritage. In her story Walker portrays the quilt as the use and misuse of the cultural heritage and people's different attitudes to it. The redefinition of the African heritage led to a conflict within African-American society. The new view, held by the educated members with African-American origin collides with the traditional rural view, which represent the position of the older African-American members.

Dee's Idea of Cultural Heritage

For Dee, the quilt belongs to the world of art. She uses the quilt as a decor by hanging it on her wall. Dee also gave up her name for the name “Wangero“, because she “could not bear it any longer, being named after people who oppress [her] “ (Walker:3013). By changing her name and hanging the “Quilt“ on the wall, Dee demonstrates to the other members of the family that she has “cultural heritage“ (Christian:14).

Maggie's Idea of Cultural Heritage

Maggie, the “uneducated“ sister, puts the quilt to “everyday use“. In contrast to Dee, Maggie appreciates her heritage differently, and the quilts “are an embodiment of the spirit her folk have passed on to her“ (Christian:15).

Quilt as a Symbol of Cultural Heritage in “Everyday Use“

In “Everyday Use“ the quilt functions as a symbol for traditions and cultural heritage. The quilt is made up of...