Identity And Heritage In Alice Walker's Everyday Use

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Over time, the items created and used by the African race slowly disappear. Preserving these artifacts, however, allows them to be passed from one generation to the next. This is precisely the point of view that I believe Dee has. While this may be true, Dee goes about it the wrong way and only sees the superficial value of the artifacts. Dee views relics of rural life simply as collector’s items (Cowart 174). Cowart’s interpretation of Dee is a “visitor who reproaches others for an ignorance of their own heritage” yet she herself is “disconnected from a nurturing tradition” (172). Dee tells her mother that she does not understand her heritage (321). Ironically, it is Dee who does not understand. Dee and her companion only dress the way they…show more content…
Each character represents different ways that African-Americans chose to define their identity and heritage after the Civil Rights Movement. Mama does not embrace her heritage because she is confused as to whether or not she should embrace it. Should she be proud of what her ancestors endured? Or should she be ashamed? Maggie on the other hand, embraces her heritage and accepts all the injustice, pain, and the humiliation endured by her ancestors. Dee wants to embrace only the beautiful parts of her heritage and completely disregard the aspects that bring shame to her. But it is the very things that bring ‘shame’ that define heritage and identity. As I read the story, I saw myself in Mama and Dee. I am Mexican-American and sometimes exhibit behavior similar to Dee’s. I want to completely disregard my ‘Mexican’ side because I live in America and therefore should be ‘American.’ Yet, at the same time I do not want to lose the tiny bit of Mexican in me and want to embrace it and explore that side of me. Like Mama, I am not ashamed of who I am. I am not ashamed of the struggle that my parents and their parents went through. My biggest dilemma is that I do not know enough of my Mexican side such as the culture, traditions, foods, and even the history because from young age I was not exposed to those things. I feel as though
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