Accepting Ones Heritage in Everyday Use

Topics: Family, Grandparent, Short story Pages: 3 (1143 words) Published: December 9, 2010
Accepting Ones Heritage in Everyday Use

Ember Eslinger
February 24, 2010
Essay 1

Individuals’ identities are formed and moulded by how he or she chooses to accept and preserve their culture. One might believe that it is important to have the chance to pass down the stories of their past and the significance of their family treasures. Another opinion one might have in saving one’s heritage may be simply possessing family heirlooms. This paper focuses on the importance of experiencing people’s heritage and being proud of it; despite hardships and stereotypes. In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker it is evident that the antagonist is interested in preserving her heritage for the wrong reasons. Common sense seems to dictate that Mama is more sympathetic towards Maggie because they have more in common and share the respect for their heritage.

Some critics believe that Mama possibly favours Maggie when it comes to the admiration and respect of their heritage. Even though Dee claims she’s become more knowledgeable about her African-American culture, Mama doesn’t believe that her heart is in it. It’s almost as if she has shed her identity to satisfy this mistaken image that’s imbedded in her head of what being true to her African-American culture is all about. When Mama realizes the only reason Dee came home was to claim their family’s old quilts so she could hang them on the wall, Mama becomes resentful and disappointed towards her for not valuing the sentimentality behind her family’s heirlooms. Having the quilts hang on the wall of her house for everyone to see is essentially a reminder of her superior social and economic status. Mama believes Dee is ignorant and naive towards her own inheritance. By conforming to the white Americans view of the African-American traditions she’s cheating herself out of both cultures. She’s both and neither at the same time. Although Walker does not directly state, Dee’s character seems ashamed of...
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