The Importance Of Family Quilts In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, an African American family splits due to the evolving cultures of 1960s Georgia. A mother and her daughter, Maggie, have cleaned the entire house and yard in preparation for her older daughter’s arrival. When Dee, the older daughter, arrives, they are surprised by her colorful dress and mysterious Muslim friend or possibly husband; Dee has also changed her name to Wangero. After a short reunion, Dee immediately begins going through the house, searching for things that she wants to take back to her new life. She also tries to take two family quilts, to which the mother refuses. The two family members have completely different ideas about the quilts and life in general, so Dee leaves somewhat indignantly. This …show more content…
Are they heritage or art? Dee would say they are both; her mother would say they are heritage to be used solely for their purpose. Dee believes her mother and Maggie do not fathom the decorative and historical worth of the quilts, and she thinks they are “backward enough to put them to everyday use” (Walker 323). The mother replies that she would love for someone to use them instead of having them for no purpose. Interestingly enough, Dee may want her heritage to be more palpable than her family does. She recognizes that with the changing times, any heritage not held will be forgotten. However, Dee wants the quilts for an artistic flair instead of a direct connection to the past, which, ironically, she never connected to. Another scholar believes, “For someone who claims a rich understanding of heritage, she is remarkably distant—economically, psychologically—from her closest connections to that heritage: her immediate family” (Sarnowski 275). Because of this fault, Dee can never understand why the quilts are important to her family; likewise, her family can never understand why Dee wants them as art. This directly influences her angry exit, and it makes her family somewhat pleased by her desertion. While both of their opinions are justified, these opposing beliefs are clearly not able to endure within this family

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