Heritage & Quilting
Family heritage is very important to many people. Heritage can take the form of photographs, paintings, families sitting around telling stories, and even songs. Quilting is one of many ways the African-American culture used to retain its heritage. African-American quilting is almost as old as the history of America. As slaves, and also their textiles, were traded heavily throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and the Southern United States, the traditions of each distinct region became intermingled. In time, African-American quilting became a tradition in itself. This strong tradition continues today. In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use”, although Maggie and Dee/Wangero differ in point of view regarding the heritage of the quilts and how to honor them; the quilts symbolized something significant to both Maggie and Dee/Wangero. Maggie values the quilts because of the love and respect she has for her ancestors. She hasn’t had much formal education but has learned the traditional ways of her heritage from family. This is shown because of her ability to relate to certain pieces of fabric that was sewn into the quilts. Maggie is a shy individual and very self-conscious about her appearance because of her scars from a fire long ago so her look remains traditional unchanged and unaffected. Maggie feels that the quilts should be used everyday and cherished. But she recognizes what her heritage is unlike her sister Dee/Wangero. Dee/Wangero seeks her heritage without understanding the heritage itself. She values the family quilts because she sees them as being priceless and that these historical pieces of her heritage should be displayed. She wants them for materialistic reasons not for Everyday Use. She is overly confident and is the first in the family to embrace modernization. Dee/Wangero feels that she is preserving her heritage by displaying the quilts so that they may be looked at. She clearly does not see the history...
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