Valuing And Understanding One’s Heritage Article Summary

1487 words - 6 pages

In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, one can see that a person’s heritage is particularly important and sacred. Dee and Maggie grew up in the same household nurtured by the same mother. The sisters are exposed to the same values but matured to express them differently. A person’s values and heritage of their culture are cultivated as they are taught and what they value important and sacred. A person’s values originate from their exposures growing up.
Mama is the raconteur. She has no education and in in 1927, after second grade the school closed down (110). Mama is not an excellent singer but is better at a man’s job. Mama is exceptionally large and stout with a not so witty tongue. She is ...view middle of the document...

Walker has Mama to define Maggie as a wounded animal that snuggles up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to her.
Dee desires to have marvelous things and is abundantly audacious with the clothes she wears. “At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was” (Walker). For her high school graduation, she wore a yellow organdy dress with black pumps. Dee wrote a letter to mama saying that she would manage to come see Maggie and mama no matter where they chose to live. They live in a pasture with three bedrooms like the house that burned down with a tin roof (110). The new house has portholes like on a ship cut out as windows (Walker). The portholes are neither square nor round. When Dee sees the new house, she will probably not like it. Dee watched in deep meditation as the old house burned down to the ground (Walker).
Dee advises Mama that her name is now Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. When mama asked what happened to Dee, she states “She’s dead,” “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me” (Walker). Dee (Wangero) gets her name from Mama’s sister Dicie. Dicie named Dee. They called Dicie Big Dee. Big Dee is named after Grandma Dee that is named after her mother and the trail stops (111). Wangero does not value her parentage of passed down family names.
While sitting at the table for dinner, the author states that Wangero is an omnivorous eating the same foods as she did growing up, collard greens and chitterlings. Even though, Dee changed her name, it has no bearing on her diet in her new lifestyle. Delighted to see that the benches her daddy made for the table is still being used, Wangero states the benches are lovely and run her hands underneath her and along the bench feeling, the rump imprints (112). Wangero states she needs grandma Dee’s butter dish and churn top for a centerpiece for her alcove table. She wants the dasher too but does not know what she will with it (112). Looking at the dasher closely, Wangero can see where hand and fingerprint impressions lie. Pushing the dasher up and down to make butter has left a sink in the wood. Thumbs and fingers have sunk into the wood. The wood is a beautiful, light yellow in color, from a tree that grew in the yard where Big Dee and Stash lived (Walker).
After dinner, Wangero goes through mama’s trunk at the foot of her bed and pulls out two quilts that were sewn together by Grandma Dee. Big Dee and mama hung the pieces of the quilts on quilt frames on the front porch to quilted (Walker). The two quilts consist of Lone star and walk around the mountain patterns. Scraps of dresses that Grandma Dee had worn over 50 years or more ago were in them. Grandpa Jarrell’s paisley shirts and a tiny faded blue piece from Grandpa Ezra’s Civil War epoch uniform reside in the quilts. Wangero wants the quilts because they are from pieces of dresses that her grandma used to wear. She wants to possess these particular two heirloom quilts (113).

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