Essay Example on In the story Everyday Use author Alice Walker tells a story about the Relationship









In the story Everyday Use author Alice Walker tells a story about the relationship an individual chooses to have with their culture through characters Mama Dee and Maggie The story starts off with Mama and her youngest daughter Maggie waiting for Dee her older daughter to visit from college When Dee arrives she shows up with new attire a new name and a man named Asalamalakim also known as Hakim a barber Quilting is used in the story as a symbol For centuries women have been associated with textiles through weaving and sewing Although this has been primarily connected to mandatory labor women have historically made quilts with significant meanings Therefore the quilt symbolizes heritage and culture and the conflict over the quilt was a representation of Dee s perspective of heritage versus Mama and Maggie s perspective When Dee wanted to keep the quilt Mama originally promised Maggie to hang up on her wall the issue about a lack of understanding about culture in heritage is brought up In African culture making quilts is very important because each patch tells a story and in the end Maggie gets to keep the quilt due to these circumstances 

The reason being is because although Dee seemed more persistent to have the quilt she would not have used it for its purpose unlike Maggie Connecting with one's culture is more than changing names or wearing new clothes It is about embracing and viewing yourself within the heritage Walker used Dee as an example of a person who knows little about their heritage and uses material items to make a statement although it is meaningless Dee lacks an understanding of her heritage mainly because she is rejecting the ways of her mother and younger sister but finds value in the quilts that have been passed down from generations Instead of viewing the household items as symbols of oppression she views them as aesthetic items For instance Dee states Maggie can't appreciate these quilts She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use 293 When she says these statements it seems she completely overlooked the true meaning and use behind the quilt It seems as if she was tired of the heritage she had no control of having and constructed her very own She failed to see the importance of her real name Dicie which is her aunt s name and changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo because she feels her new name accurately represents her heritage 

However Mama s idea about heritage differs from Dee's drastically Mama views that the family objects are infused with the presence of the person who made it and are significant items for ones understanding about their identity and origins Maggie who has similar views as her mother states She can have them Mama I can remember Grandma Dee without the quilts and this small statement is important because it emphasizes the importance of connecting to culture Maggie connected with the quilts and even though she was not as persistent as her sister to keep the quilts no matter what she will always have her heritage with her The power of education is another important theme of the story because education can separate someone from their family as well as their former self if one allows this Growing up Mama did not have access to an education due to the school closing with no intention of reopening again The reason being racism passive acceptance and other things out of her control Since Mama did not have an education she wanted Dee to have that opportunity even though she struggled Yes Dee going to school was beneficial for her because of the education it was divisive because it drove a wedge between her family and made her forget about her true sense of self

However Maggie has been affected as well By her lack of education she cannot read well she has always done what she has been told and has not experienced a world outside of her home causing her to adjust to her conditions This has led to self fulfilment Walker in a way set up Dee and Maggie s characters to be opposites to reveal an ironic contradiction Dee s quest for knowledge has led to the alienation between her and her family while the lack of education has harmed and set Maggie back Both education and the lack of it have proven to be dangerous for the sisters The story is set in the 1960 s 1970 s where African Americans were struggling to have control of multiple things such as cultural and political identities in American society During this time groups such as The Black Panthers and Black Muslims were created to resist white dominated societies Dee and Hakim a barber are most likely imitating the artists writers and other groups who wore articles of clothing that represented black culture and freedom They represent the younger generation who have different opinions on heritage based on what others outside their social class or families view the concept Examples include celebrities and authors

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