Rejecting Heritage: Wangero's Greed Illustrated in Walker's, Everyday Use

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It was a little girl’s second Christmas and, although she does not remember now, she was so excited to open the big red package from grandma. She ripped open the package and the soft, handmade brown bear went poof in her hands. She has kept the ratty, old bear not for its beauty but because it has sentimental value of a simpler time. Like this example, many people have memories of items they grew up with that have more than monetary value, most people forget the real value of these items, however, and commercialize them as art or sell them away as junk in garage sales. In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” we are shown a vivid example of what can happen when people take these once treasured items for granted. Walker’s character…show more content…
Wangero appears at the house with Asalamalakim, dressed in African clothing, greeting Mama and Maggie in another language, and Mama replies saying: “Well,” I say. “Dee” “No, Mama,” she says. “Not ‘Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!” “What happened to Dee?” I wanted to know. “She’s dead,” Wanger said. “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me.” “You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie,” I said… “But who was she named after?” asked Wangero. “I guess after Grandma Dee,” I said. “And who was she named after?” asked Wangero. “Her mother,” I said, and saw Wangero was getting tired. “That’s about as far back as I can trace it,” I said. Though, in fact, I probably could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches(144). Wangero has obviously lost the point of why she was named after these women, and only sees a legacy of under-cultured and ignorant women because it does not fit into her view of reality, and also does not support the selfish reason for her name change, the reality is that the name “Dee” has a much greater meaning than Wangero makes it out to have. Through the act of changing her name and appearance to conform to those that are popular among her peers, Wangero confirms that she has broken away from her family, effectively disowning them until it was socially convenient and profitable for her to return to her mother’s home for the items she set out to get.

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