The characteristics of culture
In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker the contrasting of the characters views and opinions, illustrates the importance of understanding your present life compared to your families heritage. Using careful descriptions and attitudes Walker shows the different sides of culture and heritage when she tells the story through the words of the mother (the narrator) in the story.
Dee (the oldest daughter) in the story takes pictures of everything in and around her mother’s home to remember how everything is. She fails to notice that they (her mother and younger sister) still use these items in their home. Dee’s character symbolizes a very modern character who values her heritage through trendiness and aesthetic appeal. The Mother shows her to be very materialistic when she does not even care that their house burns down when she was a child. “Why don’t you do a dance around the ashes? I’d wanted to ask her. She hated the house that much.” (414)
Dee’s character struggles to create her own identity. She is confused to what this encompasses. She grasps at African tradition and cultures, like when she changes her name to Wangero (an African name). Consequently she fails to acknowledge her own African-American culture; as she finds the items in her Mother’s home to be material goods, as opposed to her ancestor’s habits and way of life.
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Dee discovers some quilts while going through her Mother’s things. One of which her mother tried to give her, but she thought it was old fashioned and out of style at the time. Now that she has been at the university for awhile she finds them to be a “priceless” resemblance of heritage. She sees the items as decorations. Thinking it would be quaint to display a butter churn top, that her uncle had carved for her mother, on her table as a center piece, and hang the quilts on her wall.
These items symbolize to Dee the tangible items that are hand made by her ancestors; nevertheless she...
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