In the Alice Walker’s story “Everyday Use”, two sisters portray their contrasting family views on what they perceive to be heritage. The idea is that a quilt is a part of this family’s history. They aren’t just parts of cloth put together to make a blanket. The quilt symbolizes their ancestors’ lives and tells a story with every single inch of cloth. Understanding the reasoning of why the author wrote this story is very important; valuing the culture and traditions of your family is extremely meaningful. This is shown by the mother’s thoughts on the quilts, “Both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago.
Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece about the size of a penny matchbox that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War. (367-368)”In the story, Walker presents Maggie, who is the younger sister, as an example of heritage in terms of passing it on through the generations with knowledge and respect. Maggie unlike her older sister knew how to sew and appreciated personally and emotionally on how much time and effort where put into the quilts whereas Dee sees the quilt valued only for financial and aesthetic reasons.
Maggie and Dee have very different ideas about what constitutes their heritage and for Maggie, the family heirlooms are filled with the presence of the people who made and used them. Dee on the other hand is angered by what she views as a family history of oppression. Because of this Dee has constructed a new heritage for herself based on African blood, she even went as far as to give herself a new name, “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo,” but she fails to see the history and legacy of her actual family and has created a new persona based around her new “African Heritage”.
... daughter is rightly entitled to the heritage more than the other, Maggie deserves the quilts more than Dee does because she understands the true ... but special memories as well. Maggie, unlike Dee, is not ashamed of her family or where she lives. Maggie takes pride in her home. ... of the true meaning of heritage is sometimes expressed in simple ways. In Alice Walker s short story Everyday Use, makes a ...
However she has little true understanding of Africa, so what she considers her true heritage is actually completely empty and false. She desires the heirlooms, but she sees them as objects of another era, only suitable for display but not for use. In doing so she has set herself outside her own history. When Dee says that Mama and Maggie do not understand their heritage it is ironic because it is Dee herself is the one who does not understand her heritage. The quilt told a story of greater value than just someone simply sewing fabric together.
In the story, the two sisters looked at it from two separate views. Both the younger sister and the older sister cherished it in different ways. At the end of the story even though they both cherished the quilts the younger sister, Maggie is given the quilts because she knew the true meaning of her own heritage. She represented it in her lifestyle and attitude. In the end, her mother rewarded Maggie’s view of respecting the quilts by giving the quilts to Maggie instead of Dee.
In conclusion the story inspires people to look deeper than a simple blanket and find its full meaning. Basically the theme of the story is that heritage is in the feelings and meanings of the people left behind in the objects and heirlooms that these same people leave behind. This is inherent in the fact that the mother chose to give the quilts, which held the most meaning and value to their family, to Maggie because she actually cared and would use them for their intended purpose instead of squandering them like Dee would have done.
The way in which a parent raises their child has a direct impact on the way the child perceives itself as well as how siblings perceive each other. In addition, the social atmosphere surrounding the child and any major crisis's that happen in their life, contribute to this perception. In the story " Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, the daughters, "Dee" and "Maggie" are affected by all three ...