African American Heritage In Everyday Use

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In the short story “ Everyday Use” the story took place in the rural south during an tumultuous time when many African Americans were struggling to redefine and seize control of their social, cultural, and political identity in American society. “On TV mother and child embrace and smile into each other 's faces. Sometimes the mother and father weep, the child wraps them in her arms and leans across the table to tell how she would not have made it without their help. I have seen these programs” (155). Dee declines her real heritage and constructs a new heritage for herself. She cannot stand even with her name and changes to an African one, Wangero, that represents African heritage. Although Mama struggled to send Dee to a good school, education…show more content…
Mama describes herself as a big-boned woman with hands that are rough from years of physical labor.She wears overalls and has been both mother and father to her two daughters. Poor and uneducated, she was not given the opportunity to break out of her rural life. She doesn’t understand Dee’s life, and this failure to understand leads her to distrust Dee. Mama sees Dee’s life as a rejection of her family and her origins. No doubt when Dee sees [the house] she will want to tear it down” (155). It is not surprising that she names familiar Maggie as the caretaker of the family’s heritage. You don 't have to call me by [the name Wangero] if you don 't want to," said Wangero. She believed mama was going to be surprised instead she replied "Why shouldn 't I?" I asked. "If that 's what you want us to call you, we 'll call…show more content…
Dee comes across as arrogant and insensitive, and Mama sees even her admirable qualities as extreme and annoying.Dee was never told no. She was use to getting her way with everyone. But for the first time she was told no, “Dee (Wangero) looked at me with hatred. “You just will not understand. The point is these quilts, these quilts”(156). Dee is intrigued by their rustic realism, snapping photographs as though they are subjects of a documentary, and in doing so effectively cuts herself off from her family. Instead of honoring and embracing her roots, Dee looks down on her surroundings, believing herself to be above them.And then [Dee] turned to Maggie, kissed her, and said, "You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It 's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you 'd never know it" (157). Dee and Hakim-a-barber are aligned with the abstract realm of ideology, which contrasts starkly with the earthy, physical, labor-intensive lifestyle of Mama
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