25 Mar. 2015 Living Proof of Heritage
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is the story about three African American women: Mama, Maggie, and Dee, who have varying ideas about how best to appreciate their heritage and family’s traditions. Dee, the oldest daughter, comes home from college to visit her mother and sister at their family home in the country. Immediately there is tension as Dee announces she has changed her name to Wangero. As the family eats dinner, Dee starts asking for items made by family members so she can use them as art pieces in her apartment. Her boyfriend refuses to eat because he considers the meal “unclean”, even though pork and collards are a traditional southern meal (Walker). Throughout the story, it is very obvious that Dee does not appreciate her family’s heritage in the same way that Mama and Maggie do. Dee, unlike her mom and her sister, is very selfish and has desires for material wealth and knowledge that her family members do not care for. The symbolism and imagery used in “Everyday Use” shows the vast differences in the characters’ personalities and how their opinions on preserving family heritage are opposite.
There are major differences is Dee’s personality when she is compared to Maggie and Mama. Maggie is shy, quiet, and nervous. In the text it states, “she will stand hopelessly in the corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her legs” (Walker). This shows that Maggie is not comfortable in her own skin and does not look forward to Dee’s visit. The burns that Maggie suffered have not just affected her physically, but also her confidence in herself and her mannerisms. This is seen in the way her mother describes her walk as, “chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle” (Walker). As Maggie ask her mother how she looks, she is barely visible because she is hiding behind the doorway. This further shows that Maggie is very