Alice Walker "Everyday Use:

In: English and Literature

Submitted By beknowle
Words 1609
Pages 7
Family Ties or Societal Knowledge: Take it or Leave it
Set in the rural south during segregation in 1960s, Alice Walker visibly notes the theme and importance of heritage in her short story, “Everyday Use.” Walker presents a family with different perspectives of the definition of culture. There’s Maggie and Mama as “backwards” and uneducated, but they understand their history and heritage, meanwhile Dee has the education and sophistication but is clueless of the actuality of true family history. Walker deems the importance of heritage, suggesting that passing down tradition through generations keeps the bond alive; but these characters choose to dismiss or celebrate their heritage despite the attempts to work for a middle ground in order to balance the extremes.
Ultimately, Maggie's roots are deeply and firmly planted in the cultural soil of her family's traditions, unlike Dee who was always ashamed, hating her rural traditions and upbringing. Dee sees her roots from a disconnected view of admiration. Dee’s perceived by the complex, materialistic, modern way of life where heritage is valued by its trendiness. While Maggie and Mama, on the contrary, represent the simple practice way of life where culture holds personal substance. Both have different approaches to life and virtually opposite of one another. Dee knows it is okay to want the best and is described as a confident and fearless young woman: “At sixteen she had a style of her own,” and “hesitation was no part of her nature” (Walker 2582). Unlike her mother and her sister, Dee isn’t content with her childhood lifestyle so she worked to change that. This isn’t a negative trait in that her determination pushed her to travel and learn. In opposition, Maggie not only remains in the background as she cowers behind her mother nearly all her life, but she envelops herself with her cultural background. She is…...

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