The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use Essay

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The Meaning of Heritage in Alice Walker's Everyday Use

Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," is a story about a poor, African-American family and a conflict about the word "heritage." In this short story, the word "heritage" has two meanings. One meaning for the word "heritage" represents family items, thoughts, and traditions passed down through the years. The other meaning for the word "heritage" represents the African-American culture.

There are three women in this short story, two sisters and their mother. One of the sisters is named Maggie and the other is named Dee. Maggie and her mother believe that the word "heritage" deals with their family?s traditions. These traditions are the only ones they have ever known and/or cared
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Dee pulls out two quilts and this is what the mother has to say about them:

They had been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and . . . hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them. One was in the Lone Star pattern. The other was Walk Around the Mountain. In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jerrell?s paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the piece of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra?s uniform that he wore in the Civil War. (Walker 1153)

In order for the mother to explain the quilts and their origin in such a detailed manner, she had to know a lot about her family?s heritage. When Dee is asking about the butter dash and who made it, Maggie responds with the answer immediately. By Maggie answering so quickly and correctly, it shows Maggie?s knowledge about her family?s heritage, which Dee does not seem to have.

During Dee?s visit with her family, she asks for the two quilts, and her mother refuses. The mother had offered them to Dee before she went to college and she did not want them. Back then, Dee had called the quilts "old-fashioned, out of style" (Walker 1154). This shows that Dee was not interested in the quilts until they were considered fashionable, trendy, and "in style." This also shows that Dee is a "stylish" person who is trying
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