The story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker tells about the relationship between mother and two daughters with different views and beliefs, and how a mother’s attitude towards her younger daughter changed with time. This story also addresses the topic of cultural identity in a way of how this term can be perceived differently.
Although mama was uneducated, she inherently understood the meaning of heritage by showing respect and love to those who lived before her. It can be seen from mama’s love to the quilt as by touching it she could reach those who it represented. On the other hand, Dee’s, the older daughter, understanding of heritage was superficial or even absent. She did not want to recognize her ties with her family looking down on them. Mama described Maggie, her younger daughter, by saying, “she has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on the ground, feet in shuffle ever since the fire that burned the house to the ground (Walker 408). Despite the negative description of her daughter, mama acknowledged that her understanding of heritage was profound as she could tell the history of the dasher, while Dee was not aware at all.
Throughout the story, it can be seen that mama was disappointed by Dee’s behavior so that her attitude towards Dee changed gradually in favor of Maggie’s practical values. In the end, mama looked at her younger daughter and saw something more than insecurity, and she recognized a heritage that she had to be proud of. Suddenly, it became clear who had to own the quilt. This story shows how Dee misperceived the concept of heritage and how mama misperceived her younger daughter’s values.
Walker, Alice. Everyday Use. Edited by Robert Di Yanni, McGraw Hill, 1998.