Message of Family Heritage in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"
The differences in attitude that Dee and Maggie portray about their heritage are seen early in the story. When the family's house burned down ten or twelve years ago, Maggie was deeply affected by the tragedy of losing her home where she grew up. As her mother describes, "She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground" (409). Dee, on the other hand, had hated the house. Her mother had wanted to ask her, "Why don't you dance around the ashes?" (409). Dee did not hold any significance in the home where she had grown up. In her confusion about her heritage, it was just a house to her.
Another example of Dee's confusion about her own African-American heritage is expressed when she announces to her mother and sister that she has changed her name to "Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo." When her mother questions her about the change, Dee says, "I couldn't bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me" (411).