Overall, in Alice Walker’s shortstory the two different concepts of heritage are displayed within thecharacters.
Readers can view how past history and new beginnings play asignificant role in an individual’s life. Walker increases the concept ofheritage by contrasting Dee’s idea with Mama’s idea. Mama believes thatheritage is a part of everyday life while Dee has a distant view of heritage. Bothcharacter’s personality structure develops much differently which strongly hasan effect on their thinking and actions. Being that many individuals havetrouble with identity, this short story is significant. “Everyday Use” allowsreaders to understand that there are parts of life that we will experience thatwe will not be pleased with, but we cannot let that hinder us from what isdeserving of respect and appreciation.
We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!
It is crucial to have the properunderstanding before making a life decision. In regards to the story, many arenot fortunate enough to trace their family history thus one should not take itfor granted. It is okay not to have the same opinion as someone but bothparties should respect one another’s opinion. One should be able to respect anidea without On the contrary, it is shown that Dee, unfortunately, doesnot make any realization. It is evident that Dee does not have an understandingon what heritage is. She fails to see things from different perspectives.
AsDee is leaving her mother’s house she utters, “It’s really a new day for us.But from the way you and Mama still live you’d never know it” (Walker 161). Deeis still focused on appearance and is too blind to see that her mother andsister are content with what they have.
As readers, we realize that AliceWalker wants to create a balance. Although readers may feel hatred towards Dee,because of her thoughts and actions, we also to feel sympathy. When Mamaquestions Dee and asks, “What don’t I understand” Dee replies with “Yourheritage.
” (Walker 161). It is clear that Dee is the one who does notunderstand her heritage which makes the readers feel sorry for her. Dee isstruggling to find her true identity. She is influenced by the politicalactivism that surrounds her at school, therefore she is in search of findinganother heritage that predates her slavery heritage. Dee is wrestling with her past identity inhopes of finding a new sense of self. From Dee’s action, Mama realizes that she no longer feltcontrolled by Dee. At the beginning of the story, Mama dreams of reuniting withDee in hopes of Dee recognizing her hard work instead of seeing her as anembarrassment.
The mother states, “Then we are on stage and Dee is embracing mewith tears in her eyes” (Walker 155). It is evident that Mama has tried to giveDee what she wanted, to the best of her ability, but Dee does not appreciatethat. In the end, Mama views how Dee can be self-centered and if she cannot respecther mother’s decision then she cannot respect the quilts. Mama finally sees bothdaughters differently and learns that Maggie has proven that she appreciatesher heritage and has the same beliefs as her mother.Moreover,from Mama and Dee’s different views on heritage readers can view how thecentral event in the story is when Dee asks Mama if she can have two quiltsthat were made by the family’s ancestors. This is represented as the centralevent because the mother must decide who to give the quilts to Dee or Maggie.
Itis said that the quilts had been made by Dee’s aunt and grandmother whichcarried “scrapes of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago”(Walker 159). This central event is significant because Mama is worried thatDee will not appreciate the quilts. Mama views the quilts as something that is apart of her heritage which Dee does not believe in. Mama believes that thequilts should be put to use, hence the title of the story, which conflicts withDee’s idea. When asked what she would do with the quilts, the character states,”Hang them” (Walker 160). This statement highlights Dee’s belief that heritageshould be an artistic view, but when Maggie reassure Mama that she willremember Grandma Dee without the quilts Mama has made her decision on who topass the quilts down to. Maggie’s belief coincides with her mother’s belief thatheritage involves family and is personal permits her to have the quilts. With Dee’soverdeveloped id wanting satisfaction, she challenges the mother as the textstates, “Dee (Wangero) moved back just enough so that I couldn’t reach thequilts” (Walker 160).
Being that Dee has ignored her mother’s decision, thisallows Mama to make a realization. Onthe other hand, Dee is characterized as an associate of the Black Powermovement, who is struggling to find her identity, which creates a differentview of heritage from her mother’s. Dee is shown to be discontent with her lifeas she is building a new heritage on African culture based on her education shereceived at school.
Dee is seen to struggle with her real heritage as she doesnot want to be linked to the oppressive history of her family. The characterstates, “Not ‘Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!” (Walker 158). This statementshows how Dee has changed her name to an African name and failed to see how herreal name came from her aunt and has been passed down through generations.
WhenDee returns home she is seen taking pictures of her family, their house, andthe cows. The text states, “She never takes a shot without making sure thehouse is included” (Walker 158). These pictures are to display how far she hascome while turning them into an art object. Dee views heritage as somethingthat is in the past that has no life. It should only be put on display. Heridea of heritage is object orientated, unlike her mother’s belief in heritagethat involves people and emotion. Dee ultimately has a distant view of heritageas she tries to remove herself in search for a new heritage that predates what herreal heritage which she views as slavery. The character is shown to have anoverdeveloped id as she seeks satisfaction and pleasure.
Her motives are basedon instincts rather than what may be morally correct. In”Everyday Use,” Mama is characterized as someone who is accepting of herself,and where she comes from, which permits her view to be different from Dee’s. Thestory begins with the mother stating, “I will wait for her in the yard thatMaggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon. A yard like this ismore comfortable than most people know” (Walker 155). This highlights how Mamais at peace with where she is and her surroundings that she perceives as partof her family’s heritage. When looking at Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theoryof personality, Mama is shown to have a developed ego and superego as she hasrespect and love for the ones that have come before her. Unlike her daughter,Mama has no education and often feels inferior, but this does not stop her fromdoing the right thing along with understanding her heritage. Mama believes thatheritage is a part of one’s everyday life.
She views it as continuing and developingthroughout the years. She believes that it should be present and something thatis honored. Mama is accepting of her heritage and coming to peace.
Tobegin, “Everyday Use” is about the Johnson family who has different views onheritage. The story represents the struggles that African American womenencountered during the 1960s. During this time period, The Black Movement ascendedcreating a critical period of discrete concepts of heritage, education, andBlack pride. The story presents the characters Mama and Dee who have differentviews on dealing with their past and heritage that lead to a conflict overquilts. Throughoutan individual’s childhood, it is evident that they model what they see andhear.
Children are taught lessons at a young age that pertain to their family’svalues, heritage, and what is important to them. Although one is taught at ayoung age it is not guaranteed that those lessons will stick with themthroughout life. Individuals often encounter a period of change withinthemselves. They begin to develop their own identity from what they experienceand encounter in life. Within this development, it is common for one to strayaway from what has been taught to them because they want to grow and see lifefor themselves.
This period of change permits an individual to either gain anunderstanding or experience confusion. In Alice Walker’s short story, “EverydayUse,” readers are shown two characters who have different views on heritage.The plot of the story displays how the characters either accept or deny where theycome from which leads to a searching of one’s identity. With the use ofcharacterization, and Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytictheory of personality, this paper will showcase the character’s ideas onheritage which lead to the central event and realizations that are made withinthe story.