Alice Walker "Everyday Use"
Alice Walker illustrates the significance of heritage in material objects by contrasting the family members in the story "Everyday Use". Walker uses Mama and Maggie, the youngest of the two sisters, as an example that heritage travels from one generation to another through experience and learning. However, Dee, the oldest daughter, possesses a misconception of heritage as material. During Dee's visit, contrast of characters becomes a conflict. Dee says that the mother does not understand her heritage. But is Dee right by making that comment? Dee misplaces the significance of heritage in her hope for displaying her racial heritage. Rejection of the family history, appreciation of only good material things and selfishness is what makes Dee's understanding of what true heritage wrong.
Mama dreams that her oldest daughter will arrive home and embrace her with tears in her eyes. But when Dee comes home , she seen as a stranger. She greets her family saying, "Wasuzo-Teano! "When Mama refers to Dee by her name, Dee replies with "No, Mama. Not 'Dee,' Wangero Leewanica Kemanjo!" Mama asks, "What happened to 'Dee'?" Dee replies with, "She's dead. I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me" (Walker 111). In this part of the story Dee rejecting her family history. She does not understand that there is actually a story of how she got her name. Mama points out that her daughter got that name after her aunt, who was named after her grandmother. Even though Dee may not be an "African" name it is based on custom, tradition, ancestors and the heritage of Johnson's family.
Mrs. Johnson remembers Dee's childhood and her appreciation of nice things. Dee was not the least upset when their home burned to the ground while she was just a girl, "Why don't you dance around the ashes ? I'd wanted to ask her. She had hated the house that much" (Walker 110). Dee is misinterpreting her heritage as material goods, as opposed to her ancestor's