“Everyday Use”: The Importance of Appreciating Heritage and Tradition

1. Introduction

“Everyday Use” is a short story by Alice Walker. It was first published in 1973 and is included in Walker’s collection of short stories In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. The story centers on the relationship between a mother and her two daughters.

The mother is a hardworking woman who lives in the rural south with her younger daughter, Maggie. The older daughter, Dee, is a college student who comes to visit her family for a few days. During her visit, Dee expresses interest in taking some of the family’s heirlooms, including a quilt, with her when she goes back to school. The quilt is an important part of the family’s history, and the mother wants Dee to appreciate it for its sentimental value rather than its monetary worth. This sets up a conflict between the two sisters, which eventually leads to Dee taking the quilt without her mother’s permission.

The story addresses themes of family, heritage, and the meaning of art and objects. It also explores the different ways that people can view the same thing and how those views can be in conflict with one another.

2. Themes and conflicts in “Everyday Use”

The main theme of “Everyday Use” is the importance of appreciating heritage and tradition. This is shown through the conflict between Dee and her mother over the quilt. Dee sees the quilt as nothing more than an old piece of fabric that can be sold for money, while her mother sees it as a valuable family heirloom with sentimental value. The quilt is representative of the different ways that people can view their heritage. For Dee, heritage is something that can be bought and sold. For her mother, it is something to be treasured and passed down through generations.

The story also explores the theme of family relationships. The mother-daughter relationship is at the center of the story, and we see both positive and negative aspects of this relationship throughout the course of the narrative. On one hand, we see the close bond between the narrator and Maggie. They share a close relationship based on trust and understanding. On the other hand, we see the strained relationship between Dee and her mother. They have difficulty communicating with each other and often butt heads on various issues. Ultimately, Dee leaves without resolving her differences with her mother.

3. Relationship between the narrator and Maggie

The relationship between the narrator and Maggie is a positive one. They are very close to each other and share a strong bond of trust and understanding. Throughout the story, we see that they rely on each other for support and comfort.

Maggie is shy and withdrawn around strangers, so she often stays by her mother’s side rather than engaging with others on her own. However, she is very comfortable around her mother and is able to express herself more freely when they are together. For example, when Dee first arrives home, Maggie hides behind her mother’s skirt out of shyness. But later on, when she feels more comfortable around Dee, she comes out from behind her mother’s skirt and starts talking to her sister (Walker 73).

The narrator is very protective of Maggie and wants what’s best for her daughter. She knows that Maggie is not as confident as Dee and that she might not be able to handle herself in a confrontation with her sister. That’s why she tries to stop Dee from taking the quilt without asking first. She doesn’t want Maggie to get upset or be taken advantage of.

4. Relationship between the narrator and Dee

The relationship between the narrator and Dee is a complicated one. They love each other, but they also have a lot of unresolved issues between them. Throughout the story, we see that they often butt heads on various topics.

One source of conflict between the two is their different views on heritage. Dee is interested in taking some of the family’s heirlooms, including the quilt, with her when she goes back to school. However, her mother wants her to appreciate these items for their sentimental value rather than their monetary worth. This sets up a conflict between the two women that eventually leads to Dee taking the quilt without her mother’s permission.

Another source of conflict between the narrator and Dee is their different views on Maggie. The narrator loves and protect Maggie, while Dee often makes fun of her sister and treats her badly. For example, when Dee first arrives home, she criticizes Maggie’s appearance and calls her “Dumbo” (Walker 73). This sets up a rivalry between the two sisters that eventually leads to Dee taking the quilt without her mother’s permission.

5. Conclusion

“Everyday Use” is a short story about the importance of appreciating heritage and tradition. It also explores the different ways that people can view their heritage and how those views can be in conflict with one another. The story centers on the relationship between a mother and her two daughters, which allows us to see both positive and negative aspects of this relationship. Ultimately, the story shows that family relationships are complex and often fraught with conflict.

FAQ

The overall theme of the story is the importance of family and heritage.

The author develops this theme by showing how Dee and Maggie differ in their attitudes toward their heritage. Mama gives Dee the quilts in the end because she wants her to appreciate her family's history and culture.

The significance of the quilts in the story is that they represent the history and culture of Dee's family. They are also a symbol of Mama's love for her daughters.

Dee and Maggie differ in their attitudes toward their heritage because Dee is interested in it while Maggie is not.

Mama gives Dee the quilts in the end because she wants her to appreciate her family's history and culture.

I would have done what Mama did if I were in her position because I think it is important to value family and heritage