Everyday Use Heritage Essay

The Theme of Heritage in "Everyday Use" Essay

559 Words3 Pages

Readers of Alice Walker's, "Everyday Use", discusses how the narrator realizes that Maggie understands her own heritage. What does the narrator mean when she says, "Just like when I'm in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and shout?" Does the narrator do something amazing that she has not done before? Some readers opine that the narrator knows what it really feels like to have family. Others say that the narrator recognizes the importance of giving. However, both these readings are not with the point. The narrator realizes that Maggie should have the quilts because they embody her heritage.

The title, "Everyday Use", has a specific meaning that lashes on to the story. When the narrator, Walker…show more content…

During an evening after dinner, while Wangero rummages through Walker's trunk, she finds two quilts. The quilts that Wangero holds were sewn by Grandma Dee. The quilts each symbolize Maggie's heritage. For instance, "One quilt is the Lone Star Pattern. The other is Walk Around the Mountain. In both of them are scraps of dresses Grandma Dee wore fifty and more years ago. Another one has bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell's Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that is from Grandpa Ezra's uniform that he wore in the Civil War" (125).

The general meaning of "heritage" is the characteristics and traits of a family passed from one generation to the next. In this case, the quilts are being passed down from Grandma Dee and Grandpa Ezra to Walker. But now the question is, "who will the quilts pass down to next?" Just right after the controversy, Wangero is unsure about if Maggie should have the quilts because Maggie knows how to sew. Wangero says, "You just will not understand. The point is these quilts, these quilts!" (126). Wangero is attempting to explain to Walker that the quilts have sentimental value. In her own mind, Walker questions Wangero, "what would she do with the quilts?" Wangero's response is that she would display the quilts. Wangero looks over at Maggie and contemplates about the quilts which she holds in her hands and says, "Mama, she can have them, like somebody

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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…show more content…

However, these quilts are a representation of Dee’s family members, and they are meaningful to Mama and Maggie because they see the quilts as irreplaceable objects from their history that should be revolving their daily lives. These quilts not only embrace Mama and Maggie’s origins, but exemplify two profound pieces of fabrics that portray years of hard work and dedication in their family history. Like the quilts, Mama's household handicrafts also portray special significance in their family’s background. Moreover, the handicrafts’ Mama contains inside her home represent symbolic meaning of heritage in their family’s struggles and experiences. For example, Dee wanted to use the churn and dasher as centerpieces and as a form of art, rather than putting them to good use. Therefore, Dee does not see the dasher or the churn as valuable items that she can use; she sees them as artifacts from a historical time that she can put use in a decorative manner. As Dee states, “’I can use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table,’ she said, sliding a plate over the churn, ‘and I’ll think of something artistic to do with the dasher’” (1129). Unlike Dee, Mama sees the churn and dasher with adoration and respect because they once belonged to someone whom she cared for. As Mama stated, “You didn’t have to look close to see where hands pushing the dasher up and down to make


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