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Heritage in Everyday Use, by Alice Walker Essay

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Heritage is one of the most important factors that represents where a person came from. In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, this short story characterizes not only the symbolism of heritage, but also separates the difference between what heritage really means and what it may be portrayed as. Throughout the story, it reveals an African-American family living in small home and struggling financially. Dee is a well-educated woman who struggles to understand her family's heritage because she is embarrassed of her mother and sister, Mama and Maggie. Unlike Dee, Mama and Maggie do not have an education, but they understand and appreciate their family's background. In “Everyday Use,” the quilts, handicrafts, and Dee’s transformation helps the reader interpret that Walker exposed symbolism of heritage in two distinctive point of views.
The quilts play an important role in depicting symbolism of heritage because they signify Dee’s family origins. For instance, Dees’ significant family members all have pieces of their fabric sown on to the quilts as a remembrance of who they were and their importance in the family. Nevertheless, Dee is overlooking important facets of her family history because she does not see the quilts her ancestors made as valuable, hand-made, pieces of fabric that should be passed down and taken care of to keep their history alive. As Mama stated, “In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty years and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the civil war.” (1129). Despite her family’s history, Dee continues to misinterpret the...


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...nt to those generations. Dee is educated and represents a modern generation that portrays freedom because she chooses to leave her rural home and start a different lifestyle, where she represents the African culture and plans to marry a man she selected. However, Mama represents an older generation where she is not a confident, educated, African-American, but deeply believes in her heritage because it is one of the last valuable possessions that she owns and represents the labor her family experienced. Despite this, heritage is beautiful remembrance of where people came from and distinguishes the struggle their family made to continue their legacy, but create a new life, as well.



Works Cited


Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William Burto, and William E. Cain. 10th ed. New York: Pearson, 2014. 1125-1131. Print.


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