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Everyday Use

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Through contrasting the family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker illustrates the importance of understanding African American traditions of their own culture. Using careful descriptions and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors contribute to the values of one's heritage and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects, but by one's lifestyle and attitude. In this paper I will explain the theme of the story "Everyday Use

In "Every Day Use" Walker shows the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Dee and the mother. The character Dee can be seen to represent a materialistic, complex, and modern way of life, where culture are to be valued for their trendy-ness and appeal. Mother on the other hand, represents a simple content way of life where culture and heritage are valued for both its usefulness as well as its personal significance. The story clearly states Mama's simple view of her heritage and Dee's materialistic connection to her heritage. This is demonstrated when we learn the mother character has inheritated many customs and traditions from her ancestors. The mother (the narrator) describes herself as "a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands" (459). She also describes her various abilities including, "I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man...I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing. I can eat pork liver cooked over the open fire minutes after it comes steaming from the hog. One winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledgehammer and had the meat hung up to chill by nightfall" (459-460). Walker is showing what the Mother has learned from her ancestors, and that being tough is a part of her heritage. Mother is proud of her accomplishments and her abilities.

The Mother (the narrator) described Dee as thinner than her sister, who has nicer hair and a full body. (460). Mother recalls Dee's childhood and her appreciation of nice things. She was not the least upset when the family home was burned down. "Why don't you dance around the ashes? I wanted to ask her. She had hated the house that much" (460). Dee's character in the story is a relation to anyone in the world who is confused about their heritage or does not know their heritage. Dee is struggling to create



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