Overall, will not be pleased with, but we cannot

            Overall, in Alice Walker’s short story the two different
concepts of heritage are displayed within the characters. Readers can view how
past history and new beginnings play a significant role in an individual’s
life. Walker increases the concept of heritage by contrasting Dee’s idea with
Mama’s idea. Mama believes that heritage is a part of everyday life while Dee
has a distant view of heritage. Both character’s personality structure develops
much differently which strongly has an effect on their thinking and actions.
Being that many individuals have trouble with identity, this short story is
significant. “Everyday Use” allows readers to understand that there are parts
of life that we will experience that we will not be pleased with, but we cannot
let that hinder us from what is deserving of respect and appreciation. It is
crucial to have the proper understanding before making a life decision. In
regards to the story, many are not fortunate enough to trace their family
history thus one should not take it for granted. It is okay not to have the
same opinion as someone but both parties should respect one another’s opinion.
One should be able to respect an idea without accepting it.

            On the contrary, it is shown that Dee, unfortunately, does
not make any realizations. It is evident that Dee does not have an
understanding on what heritage is. She fails to see things from different
perspectives. As Dee is leaving her mother’s house she utters, “It’s really a
new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you’d never know it”
(Walker 161). Dee is still focused on appearance and is too blind to see that
her mother and sister are content with what they have. As readers, we realize
that Alice Walker wants to create a balance. Although readers may feel hatred
towards Dee, because of her thoughts and actions, we also to feel sympathy.
When Mama questions Dee and asks, “What don’t I understand” Dee replies with
“Your heritage.” (Walker 161). It is clear that Dee is the one who does not
understand her heritage which makes the readers feel sorry for her. Dee is
struggling to find her true identity. She is influenced by the political
activism that surrounds her at school, therefore she is in search of finding
another heritage that predates her slavery heritage.  Dee is wrestling with her past identity in
hopes of finding a new sense of self.

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            From Dee’s action, Mama realizes that she no longer felt
controlled by Dee. At the beginning of the story, Mama dreams of reuniting with
Dee in hopes of Dee recognizing her hard work instead of seeing where she comes
from as an embarrassment. The mother states, “Then we are on stage and Dee is
embracing me with tears in her eyes” (Walker 155). It is evident that Mama has
tried to give Dee what she wanted, to the best of her ability, but Dee does not
appreciate that. In the end, Mama views how Dee can be self-centered and if she
cannot respect her mother’s decision then she cannot respect the quilts. Mama finally
sees both daughters differently and learns that Maggie has proven that she
appreciates her heritage and has the same beliefs as her mother.

Moreover,
from Mama and Dee’s different views on heritage readers can view how the
central event in the story is when Dee asks Mama if she can have two quilts
that were made by the family’s ancestors. This is represented as the central
event because the mother must decide who to give the quilts to Dee or Maggie. It
is said that the quilts had been made by Dee’s aunt and grandmother which
carried “scrapes of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago”
(Walker 159). This central event is significant because Mama is worried that
Dee will not appreciate the quilts. Mama views the quilts as something that is a
part of her heritage which Dee does not believe in. Mama believes that the quilts
should be put to use, hence the title of the story, which conflicts with Dee’s
idea. When asked what she would do with the quilts, the character states, “Hang
them” (Walker 160). This statement highlights Dee’s belief that heritage should
be an artistic view, but when Maggie reassure Mama that she will remember
Grandma Dee without the quilts Mama has made her decision on who to pass the
quilts down to. Maggie’s belief coincides with her mother’s belief that
heritage involves family and it should be personal. With Dee’s overdeveloped id
wanting satisfaction, she challenges the mother as the text states, “Dee
(Wangero) moved back just enough so that I couldn’t reach the quilts” (Walker
160). Being that Dee has ignored her mother’s decision, this allows Mama to
make a realization.

On
the other hand, Dee is characterized as an associate of the Black Power
movement. The character is struggling to find her identity, which creates a
different view of heritage from her mother’s. Dee is shown to be discontent
with her life and where she comes from as the text states, “She had hates the
house that much” (Walker 156). Dee is building a new heritage on African
culture, based on her education she received at school. Dee is seen to struggle
with her real heritage as she does not want to be linked to her family members
inflicting hardships. The character states, “Not ‘Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!”
(Walker 158). This statement shows how Dee has changed her name to an African
name. She believes that she was named after individuals who oppressed her, but fails
to see how her real name came from her aunt and has been passed down through
generations. When Dee returns home she is seen taking pictures of her family,
their house, and the cows. The text states, “She never takes a shot without
making sure the house is included” (Walker 158). These pictures are to display
how far she has come while turning them into an object for artistic means. Dee views
heritage as something that is in the past that has no life. It should only be
put on display. Her idea of heritage is object orientated, unlike her mother’s
belief which includes an emotional attachment. Dee ultimately tries to remove
herself in search for a new heritage that predates what her real heritage which
she views as slavery. The character is shown to have an overdeveloped id as she
seeks satisfaction and pleasure. Her instincts are in control which does not
allow her to view what might be morally correct.

In
“Everyday Use,” Mama is characterized as someone who is accepting of herself,
and where she comes from, which permits her view to be different from Dee’s. The
story begins with the mother stating, “I will wait for her in the yard that
Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon. A yard like this is
more comfortable than most people know” (Walker 155). This highlights how Mama
is at peace with where she is. She does not obsess over the larger and
expensive things in life. She is grateful for what she has as she perceives her
yard as part of her family’s heritage. When looking at Sigmund Freud’s
psychoanalytic theory of personality, Mama is shown to have a developed ego and
superego as she often feels subordinate, being that she does not have an
education, but this does not stop her from doing the right thing along with
understanding her heritage. She has respect for her ancestors and appreciates
what they have done. Mama believes that heritage should be included in an
individual’s life. Every day one should be exemplifying their heritage. She
views it as continuing as it should be passed down from generation to
generation. This is shown as Dee states, “This churn top is what I need. Didn’t
Uncle Buddy whittle it out of a tree you all used to have?” (Walker 159). Mama
still uses what was given to her years ago. It is lifelong and should not end but
continue to grow over time. Most importantly, Mama honors her heritage. The
character Mama is accepting of her heritage and coming to peace.

To
begin, “Everyday Use” is about a family consisting of a mother and two
daughters who have different views on heritage. The story represents the
struggles that African American women encountered in the 1960s. During this
time period, The Black Movement ascended that involved different views on
heritage and education. Many African Americans began to take pride in
themselves. The story presents the characters Mama and Dee who have different
views on dealing with their past and heritage that lead to a conflict over
quilts.

Throughout
an individual’s childhood, it is evident that they model what they see and
hear. Children are taught lessons at a young age that pertain to their family’s
values, heritage, and what is important to them. Although one is taught at a
young age it is not guaranteed that those lessons will stick with them
throughout life. Individuals often encounter a period of change within
themselves. They begin to develop their own identity from what they experience
and encounter in life. Within this development, it is common for one to stray
away from what has been taught to them because they want to grow and see life
for themselves. This period of change permits an individual to either gain an
understanding or experience confusion. In Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday
Use,” readers are shown two characters who have different views on heritage.
The plot of the story displays how the characters either accept or deny where they
come from which leads to a searching of one’s identity. With the use of
characterization, and Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic
theory of personality, this paper will showcase the character’s ideas on
heritage which lead to the central event and realizations that are made within
the story.