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Appreciation of Ones Hertiage through the Story of Dee in Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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Alice Walker’s story, “Everyday Use,” Dee the main character says, “ I couldn’t bear it any longer after the people who oppressed me.” Dee’s words during the story demonstrate the theme, that she is becoming more appreciative of her lineage unlike in the past when she was not quite fond of it. She is back home on a visit. The moment she came down from the car, walked up to her family, she greeted “Wa-su-zo-Taen-o!” This shows that she is really putting an effort to represent her cultural background. The theme is demonstrated throughout the story through Walker’s use of setting, character, and Symbol.
The setting created by Walker is very important to the theme of the story in the sense that the characters are able to relate to the traditional values.
Mama says,
A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house.
“The house is in a pasture.” Meaning the house is in a grassland area; therefore it is in a rural setting. “There are no windows, just some holes cut in the sides” This description of this yard sounds very traditional. Dee with her family
She gets a “polaroid” and takes a picture.
For her to capture the whole house, and sit outside on this yard to eat with the family, it shows her interest in getting to know more about traditional values.
Walker uses character to represent Dee’s desire to reconnect back to her heritage. Dee is described as a woman with “nicer hair”, and “fuller figure.” The narrator said; “Her feet were alwa...


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...refore should be valued. Just like the quilts, “what would you do with them?" "Hang them," she said. “As if that was the only thing you could do with quilts.” From the last quote one can tell that mama is getting a little bit frustrated with the fact that Dee is not very interested, and does not understand what the objects represented.
Although she is making an effort to have all the artistic family items, it seems that there is more of an influence on Dee’s sudden change of her wanting to relate more with her cultural background. As a youth her characteristics suggested that she is quite westernized, and wants nothing to do with her cultural background, yet at the beginning she says, “I couldn’t bear it any longer after the people who oppressed me.” What made her suddenly interested in her African heritage, more importantantly, has she made that transition yet?




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