A Literary Analysis of Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”

Topics: Family, 2003 in film, Liquidambar styraciflua Pages: 2 (821 words) Published: October 7, 2011
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use’ tells the story of a mother and her two daughters' different ideas of tradition and heritage. The mother narrates the story of the day one daughter, Dee, visits from college and clashes with the other daughter, Maggie, over the possession of some family quilts. In Walker’s “Everyday Use”, the theme of heritage is shown to be important to Dee, Maggie, and their mother, but due to the dynamics of the characters, Dee’s meaning of heritage is different from Mama and Maggies. For Dee’s mother and her sister Maggie, heritage is built on a foundation of inherited objects and ways of thinking while for her daughter; heritage is something that no longer has any useful meaning other than something for display. In the story, Dee is a young educated black woman who is attempting to reclaim her heritage; which she previously shunned. She is educated, confident, and successful. Dee has never been satisfied with her upbringing. She hated her simple farm life and thought that by improving herself and everyone around her, she could bear living there long enough until she got out, and as her mother recalled in the story, “And Dee. I see her standing off under the sweet gum tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red-hot brick chimney. Why don’t you do a dance around the ashes? I’d wanted to ask her. She hated that house so much”. Her mother knowing that “Dee wanted nice things” wanted to contribute to her dreams did what she could by raising enough money to afford to send Dee to a school in Augusta. Overshadowed by Dee, was Dee’s younger sister, Maggie. Maggie was very different from Dee. She was nervous and ashamed of the way she looked. She had extensive scarring on her legs and arms as a result of a house fire during her childhood. Because of this, Maggie’s presence was reserved and apprehensive. “Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog...
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