Heritage, Tradition And Childhood In Everyday Use By Alice Walker
Heritage is the most important theme in this story. In the beginning paragraphs, readers learn that Mama and Maggie lived in a more rural area. Mama explains in the first paragraph that her front yard felt like an extension to her living-room, which means she took pride in it. She also vividly describes her own characteristics. She says, “I am a large, big-boned woman, with rough, man-working hands” (Walker 315). She also tells of her ability to kill and cook animals all on her own.
The story opens while Mama …show more content…
The story highlights the fact that Dee also did not understand her family’s traditions. In the story, Dee says she changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. She explains that she did this because she didn’t want to keep a slave name, which is ironic because the name she chose was much closer to a “slave” name than Dee. Dee was named after her aunt, and her grandmother. The story tells that the name had been passed down for generations. When Dee attempted to take the quilts, her main cry was that they were made from her grandmother’s clothes, but she discredited her own argument when she changed her name. Dee also disrespects her family’s traditions when she says, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts” (Walker 320). This is invalid, because Maggie learned how to quilt herself from the teachings of her Aunt Dee, and her grandmother Dee. Dee also dismounted her argument because Mama had offered her a quilt when she left for college, and she claimed that they were old-fashioned, and out of style. From her furious actions, it seems as if Dee was trying to have the quilts in her possession, so she could sell them. In the article, “The Role of African-American Traditions in Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’,” the author says, “Traditions in “Everyday Use" by Alice Walker are important to both Dee and her mother, but they have different meanings. For Dee’s mother and her sister Maggie, traditions are built on a foundation of inherited objects and ways of thinking while for her daughter, traditions are something that no longer have everyday use and are corrupted by history. Most importantly, in “Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, these traditions are all based in a learning and education and the way of thinking possessed by each character has shaped the traditions they rely on” (Smith). This article validates the argument that tradition plays a vital role in this story. It gives insight on how Mama and Maggie felt versus how Dee