Essay on Heritage in Everyday Use, by Alice Walker

1056 Words 5 Pages
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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