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Everyday Use

Essay by   •  March 20, 2011  •  442 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,059 Views

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In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," two homemade quilts are used to portray a conflict between a mother and daughter over family heritage. The nature of the conflict stems from two very different attitudes on what one should do with their heritage. From Dee's (Wangero's) perspective, her heritage can best be served by preserving the quilts and putting them on display. In contrast, Mama and Maggie honor their heritage by putting it to "Everyday Use."

Before leaving for college, Dee had not had much interest in her heritage. When Mama offered her a quilt, Dee had sneered at the thought. In Dee's mind, the quilts were old-fashioned and out of style. At that point in her life, Dee seemed to feel much the same way about her heritage. Upon returning, Dee's attitude had changed, as well as her name. To Wangero, her heritage was fashionable and something that would look great on her wall. Pictures were taken, a churn top was confiscated to be used as a centerpiece, and quilts were needed to be hung on walls. The conflict began with the quilts.

The quilts had already been promised to Maggie. Upon hearing this, Wangero balked at the idea. She said that Maggie can't possibly appreciate the quilts, and that she would probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use (Walker 107). Mama is upset by this comment, and responds that she would be happy to see the quilts being used. To Mama, her heritage isn't something to be observed every now and then. It's very real and part of her everyday life. In the end, the quilts are given to Maggie. Mama decided Maggie would appreciate them more, as in her eyes, she had a greater appreciation for their heritage. Maggie had taken the time to learn things such as how to make the quilts. Also, despite her claims, it can be seen that Wangero still does not hold a true appreciation for her heritage. Her name is testament enough to this. Her real name, Dee, is part

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