The Symbolism Of Heritage In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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The story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker tells of a family, Mama, Dee, and Maggie, who battle over their heritage. Maggie and Mama know what the true definition of heritage is, yet Dee does not. The heritage of this family is shown through a main symbol: the quilts made by Mama and other family members. This symbol helps the reader come to realize what heritage means to Dee and what it means for the rest of the family. “Everyday Use” starts out with Mama talking about her yard and how well she has prepared in for Dee’s arrival. Mama wants this to impress Dee. She wants her to be comfortable in the yard as she says, “A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard” (363). The yard symbolizes comfort and safety …show more content…
Dee thinks that by changing her name to a more African name she is connecting with her true heritage. However as Mama explains, is the exact opposite of what she is doing, because her actual name, Dee has been passed down by many people within the family and has a great meaning in the family. In addition, Dee thinks that because the quilts her family has made are so precious they should be hung on walls, when the true reason the quilts were made was for everyday use. Mama and Maggie realize heritage is what their family has passed down to them, not what their name is or what they wear and how they dress. Dee is just trying to fit in with what she thinks is right. This is shown when Mama recalls that she asked Dee if she would like a quilt when going away to college, and Dee had said no because the quilts were "outdated," yet now suddenly they mean so much to her. The story ends with Dee thinking she knows everything about her true heritage and that Mama and Maggie are very wrong. The two accept how Dee feels and let her leave because they realize the irony in the situation and know that they are the ones who truly know what heritage

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