Through contrasting family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the importance of understanding our present life in relation to the traditions of our own people and culture. Using careful descriptions and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors contribute to the values of one's heritage and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects or mere appearances, but by one's lifestyle and attitude. In "Everyday Use" Walker personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Dee and the mother (the narrator). Dee can be seen to represent a materialistic, complex, and modern way of life where culture and heritage are to be valued only for their "trendy-ness" and aesthetic appeal. Mother on the other hand, represents a simple content way of life where culture and heritage are valued for both its usefulness as well as its personal significance. The story clearly endorses Mama's simple, unsophisticated view of heritage, and shows disdain for Dee's materialistic connection to her heritage. This is demonstrated from the outset of the short story, we learn very quickly that the mother (narrator) has inherited many customs and traditions from her ancestors. She describes herself as "a large big-boned woman with rough man-working hands" (485). She also describes here various abilities including, " I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man
I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing. I can eat pork liver cooked over the open fire minutes after it comes steaming from the hog. One winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledgehammer and had the meat hung up to chill by nightfall." (485) While these feats are not extraordinary, Walker exemplifies what Mother has learned from her ancestors, and that being resilient and tough is a part of her heritage. Mother is very proud of...
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