Everyday Use Essay Heritage Valley

Family Heritage In Everyday Use Essay

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Family Heritage In Everyday Use

In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," the message about the preservation of heritage, specifically African-American heritage, is very clear. It is obvious that Walker believes that a person's heritage should be a living, dynamic part of the culture from which it arose and not a frozen timepiece only to be observed from a distance. There are two main approaches to heritage preservation depicted by the characters in this story. The narrator, a middle-aged African-American woman, and her youngest daughter Maggie, are in agreement with Walker. To them, their family heritage is everything around them that is involved in their everyday lives and everything that was involved in the lives of their ancestors. To…show more content…

Dee seems to be so interested in all of the little household items that her family still uses. When she sees the top to the butter churn that her Uncle whittled out of a tree, she wants to keep it and use it a centerpiece for her alcove table. Also, Dee says, "I'll think of something artistic to do with the dasher" (412). These items are a part of life for Maggie and her mother, but to Dee they are merely pieces for decoration. Interestingly enough, Maggie knows exactly whom in her family made the items that Dee is claiming for house decorations. She informs Dee that, "Aunt Dee 's first husband whittled that dash…His name was Henry, but they called him Stash" (412). The girls' mother comments earlier in the story that "[Maggie] knows she's not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passed her by" (409). However, unlike her older sister, she understands her family heritage and the importance of it in her life.

The strongest example of Dee's confusion and of Walker's belief that a family's heritage should be alive and not frozen in time is at the end of the story. Dee finds the two quilts that had been pieced together by many generations of her family, and she wants to keep them. Her mother says, "In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell's paisley shirts. And one teeny

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In comparing and contrasting the short stories “Everyday Use” written by Alice Walker and “The Lottery” written by Shirley Jackson, tradition is carried on throughout the generations. Symbols are often used in these short stories to convey these messages of tradition and heritage. Rebellious characters are also found in both of the stories, trying to alter traditions to meet their own personal expectations. However, in contrast “The Lottery” is a much more barbaric story that does not reveal the cruelty until the end of the story. The story involves an entire village of families following a tradition. “Everyday Use” is not as tragic, it deals with a conflict within a single family unit. Both short stories have strong value…show more content…

Her name “Dee” itself is a symbol of tradition as well, it has been passed down through several generations. The black box in “The Lottery” was used as a symbol, despite the wear and tear on the box and despite the splintered sides; it was still to be used and was not repaired for over 80 years. This black box symbolizes the entire idea of the lottery and how the villagers strongly felt it should remain. Regardless of the lottery becoming less ceremonious over the years, the drawing of a name and the stoning of that person drawn were solid like the box. That would not change despite the consequence of wearing down the villagers. They feel that they must sacrifice someone every year. Rebellious characters appeared in both stories, Dee changed her name to Wangero and moved away embarrassed of her mom and sister with their lack of education and their old impoverished house. Her name was passed down for many generations, as far back as the Civil War, furthermore proving her lack of appreciation for her heritage. She reprimanded her mom and sister, arguing they had no respect for their heritage. She couldn’t understand why she would not receive the quilts. Maggie states “She can have them, Mama….I can ‘member Grandma Dee without the quilts” (115). Dee left feeling agitated when she did not get her way. Tessie in “The Lottery”, created quite a stir with her rebellion, she did not want anyone in her


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