Everyday Use by Alice Walker - Essay Example

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Everyday Use by Alice Walker Author Institution Number/Name Everyday Use by Alice Walker depicts a story of the conflicting ideas between a mother and her two daughters, Dee and Maggie, on their heritage, ancestry and identities…
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Download file to see previous pages However, her hopes are dashed when Dee returns with different world views and opinions about her heritage. Walker develops the theme of the meaning of heritage through the plot when Dee constructs a new heritage for herself after being angered by the oppression she feels exists in her family. Dee’s character is seen to have rejected her family legacy by giving herself a new name which she believes truthfully represents her African heritage. Dee’s renaming is the author’s way of trying to connect the past and indicates the flexible nature of identity. Walker does not mention Mama’s real name nor does he explain the foundation of Maggie’s name and this is meant to depict their unchanging and strong ties to their heritage and family legacy. The lack of name changing by the two characters shows that their identities are stable. Dee’s name changing reflects on her lack of belief in her true heritage as she believes that her name represents the family oppressors, and views it as racist. Walker uses Dee’s character to portray the many confusing ideas that many African Americans have about their true heritage. Dee is seen not to truly understand the meaning of being African and all her actions to look African are viewed as meaningless. She differs greatly from her sister Maggie when she arrives from college and wants to possess some family quilt heirlooms. Dee does not seem to see the quilts as useful and would prefer to use them as artifacts to be used as decorations to represent a time that is long lost and from the past. Mama and Dee, however, view the quilts as very important in the family and believe that the quilts represent the presence of those that made and used the quilts. They see the quilts to be true tokens of their family origin and heritage as opposed to foreign and impersonal objects. The conflict between the three women intensifies when Mama chooses Maggie to be the one to own the quilts, as she believes that she will treat them with respect by using them in the way they were intended to be used. The theme of the diverse power of education is developed by the author through the depiction of how Dee’s achievement of higher education proves to be more divisive to the family’s relationship. Dee’s character is used by the author to show how education can change one’s view of heritage and culture. The education that Dee has received has alienated her from her family and she views her family home to be strange. Family values have been replaced by arrogant ideals and a loss of identity and heritage that only family can provide. Walker uses Dee’s character to show how education can influence an individual’s view of the life that they live. Dee’s education has caused her to have a different view on heritage and family legacy therefore causing her to disrespect anything but her own view. Walker uses the characters to depict how education, or the lack of, is harmful. Due to her ignorance and lack of education, Maggie is seen to have hampered her achievement of self fulfillment. She is portrayed as one who has accepted the circumstances of her protected life and one who does what they are told. Walker uses the yard as a symbol to represent an area devoid of the short comings and regrets that fill Mama’s life. The yard appears in the beginning of the narrative as it is being thoroughly prepared for Dee’s arrival form college. The yard is used as a symbol that represents freedom and the lack of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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