The Meaning of Heritage in "Everyday Use"

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 1138
  • Published : April 20, 2001
Open Document
Text Preview
In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the author portrays opposing ideas about one's heritage. Through the eyes of two daughters, Dee and Maggie, who have chosen to live their lives in very different manners, the reader can choose which character to identify most with by judging what is really important in one's life. In Dee's case, she goes out to make all that can of herself while leaving her past behind, in comparison to Maggie, who stays back with her roots and makes the most out of the surroundings that she has been placed in. Through the use of symbolism, the tangible object of a family heirloom quilt brings out these issues relating to heritage to Mama, and she is able to reasonably decide which of her daughters has a real appreciation for the quilt, and can pass it on to her. Dee and Maggie shed a new light on the actual meaning of heritage through their personality traits, lifestyle decisions, and relationships with specific family members.

Although all of the character's views on heritage are expressed, Dee's character is given the more detailed description of ways she strays from her heritage. From the beginning, Dee despises the home that they live in. When it is destroyed in a fire, her mother wants to ask her, "Why don't you do a dance around the ashes?," expressing Dee's utter aversion towards the home (Walker 409). Most people take pride in their home and cherish it for all of the memories that it holds for them, but Dee is insensitive to the family's loss. After becoming of age, Dee decides to go to college, where she begins to hold her newly found knowledge against her family because of their lack of it. This opportunity to go out of her town and see the world gives Dee a taste of a better lifestyle that she wants to become apart of, and leaves her family behind. While Dee is away at college, she denies the quilts that her mother has offered her saying that "they were old-fashioned, and out of style" because she is still...
tracking img