What Influences Culture In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

1212 Words 5 Pages
What Influences Culture Culture is a blend of beliefs, ideas, values, bloodlines, communication patterns, artistic expressions, and ways of life. In many ways, culture makes up every part of a human, it makes them unique and at the same time culture is capable of uniting people. Culture defines how people identify themselves, how people act, and it even defines how people think. People view the world and the things that compose it in different ways, these ways are composed of a variety of factors, and those factors compose one’s culture, factors such as, how one was raised, the environment that said person was raised in, and societal stigmas and norms. As a person grows up they are introduced into a multitude of experiences that shapes the …show more content…
An example of this influence is found in the story “Everyday Use”. In the story a young, rural girl, Dee comes home after being at college and it soon becomes obvious that she was influenced by the more urban culture she has experienced at home. The new culture she has embraced causes conflict with her mom when she announces she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. Dee discussed with her mother over the reason she changed her name, “I couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me,” (Walker). Dee was a name in their family that relatives back to the Civil War had been named. Instead of respecting and appreciating her past, Dee looked down on her heritage, her culture, and her mother. Dee viewed her Mother and her family’s simple culture as if it was beneath her. Dee even viewed some of the everyday tools that her Mother used for practicality as show pieces and decorations. She asked her mother to give her a milk churn and quilts made by her grandmother to decorate her new home, but she didn’t plan on using the milk churn to make milk or to use the quilts to stay warm, she wanted to use the items as decorations. Dee didn’t understand the meaning behind the items or what use they still had for her family. Dee only valued the items as objects and her Mother valued these items as useful artifacts that provided daily uses to her family. Dee’s education also led her to …show more content…
Society sets standards for how people should interact with one another, how people should behave, and society even attempts to dictate the beliefs and thoughts of human beings. These standards make it extremely arduous for one to view culture as a diverse idea instead of it being a defining item like one’s heritage is. In the interview given by Kristen Lee, she goes in depth discussing the difficulties she faced with cultural identity due to her being a mix between Chinese and Swedish heritages. The world wanted her to fall into a stereotypical role in a pre-made culture. She was supposed to decide whether she wanted to “clunk around in clogs” or speak a Chinese dialect, but she did not choose either (Lee). She created her own personal identity, she decided to label herself a Hapa, but she nevertheless faced scrutiny from a world that desired a clear-cut identity. Numerous people face the same struggle with defining their identity and the decision to submit to either society’s whims or to create a unique identity that shatters the black and white spectrum that is actively in place. The choice either way ultimately leads one to having a perspective that is greatly influenced by culture. For example, if one submits to societal expectations they may view all Muslims as a threat while a person who creates a unique identity may not.

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