Essay On Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Defining Heritage In the short story, “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker defines and explores the concept of heritage in the African- American culture. The story was first published in nineteen seventy three as part of the short story collection, In Love and Trouble. “Everyday Use” tells the story of a mother and her two daughters who have conflicting ideas with their heritage and culture. The oldest daughter, Dee, is an educated young women who redefines her identity and beliefs of her heritage. On the contrary, the youngest daughter, Maggie, leads a traditional lifestyle in the South with her mother and remains faithful to her idea of heritage. The author of the short story, Alice Walker, shares several parallels between her own life and this story. Kathleen Wilson, award winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship…show more content…
In the story, “Everyday Use,” the oldest sister Dee redefines her views of her family’s heritage. Dee leaves her rural home to receive an education in the city, but when returning back home she has changed completely. Specifically, Dee changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo which creates difficulties for her mother. In the story Dee explains, “Couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me" (Walker 318). She views her past name as a reminder that African Americans are not given original names. Dee has also changed her overall appearance and has recreated a new image for herself by wearing brightly colored clothing and changing her voice. Critic of the story, David Cowart, describes Dee changes, “She now styles and dresses herself according to the dictates of a faddish Africanism and thereby demonstrates a cultural Catch-22: an American who attempts to become an African succeeds only in becoming a phony” (Cowart). She alienates herself from her original culture and values the items from her past
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