“Everyday Use”

Every body has family. The problem is that some people are proud of their ancestors and their lifestyle while others aren’t. The short fiction story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker main characters are the mother, Maggie, and Dee. The reader soon finds out through the mother’s point of view that Dee looks down on them while they are proud of the type of their lifestyle and ancestral history.
The mother and Maggie feel emotionally attached to their ancestors through the objects they have such as the quilts. On the other side is Dee who looked at the objects from an unattached way as she would judge them on whether or not they were cute enough to decorate her home. Dee changed her name to Wangero because she didn’t want to feel attached to her African American ancestors who were once slaves. She took the quilts which had being created by her mother, Grandma Dee and Big Dee. In both quilts there were pieces of Grandma Dee clothes, a little blue piece of cloth from Great grandpa Ezra’s civil war uniform (Walker 460). Those pieces of clothes had ancestral history as they had a little part of family members who had died. According to Tuan, “Athenians took great pride in being natives, in the fact that they could trace their long and noble lineage in one locality” (154). The mother seeing that Dee didn’t value it from an emotional point but rather a decorative object, she revealed against it by telling Dee that she was going to give it to Maggie who was someone who was proud of her history and who had spent time with Grandma Dee and Big Dee learning how to quilt. Maggie could trace her memories with her family as she spent time with them which shows that she had pride of descending from African Americans as she wanted to learn their way of life.
Both the mother and Maggie show an attachment to their homeland. This is shown at the beginning of the story when the house burns down and both sisters have different reactions to that event. Maggie on one side is clinging on to her mother as she sees the house burn down. This is symbolic in the sense that she doesn’t want to let go of her memories or family as she holds tightly to her mother. This is not the end of the world for her because Tuan says, “With the destruction of one “center of the world,” another can be built next to it, or in another location altogether, and it in turn becomes the “center of the world”” (150). Even though she had sadness at that moment, later on she got to live in another one which was about the same size. After getting used to that place she could once more feel at home. On the other hand is Dee who appeared to be happy, as it can be inferred from the tone of the mother as she wanted to say “Why don’t you do a dance around the ashes?” (Walker 456). This shows that Dee didn’t really feel attached to that house where she spent her childhood as there wasn’t any sadness in her face. Since she didn’t really have any emotional connection to one place, she didn’t have it to the other because her shame for her family was so great, that it didn’t allow her to form any emotional ties to that particular land.

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