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Everyday use by alice walker themes of race and ethnicity

Free online reading 1. A conflict between the different understandings of culture and traditions arises, when Dee wants to claim two old quilts which her mother had previously promised to Maggie.

This short summary is meant to briefly display the facts and introduce the reader to the subject dealt with in this short story. Walker uses the writing as her medium to spread her word and to process experiences of her own family and childhood.

She has been oppressed beyond recognition. Her efforts, however, have not always received favorable reception among blacks. She has aquired notoriety for her taboo-breaking and morally challenging depictions of African American passions and oppressions. She appears to be a young woman, even though her exact age is not given.

She everyday use by alice walker themes of race and ethnicity blinded on one eye and had the feeling of being unpleasant to look at, which caused her to seclude herself from other children in her age.

As well as Dee, she stems from a poor hard-working family and was given the chance to attend college4. Despite her education, she shunned her family for their traditional, black lifestyle and envisioned to become part of a prosperous, white society by denying her original heritage.

Dee can be seen to represent a materialistic and modern way of life where culture and heritage are to be valued only for their trendyness. The mother, on the other hand, leads a content, simple, and practical life in which the heritage is appreciated both for its usefulness as well everyday use by alice walker themes of race and ethnicity its personal significance.

These two extremes are opposed by the character of the younger daughter Maggie. Raised by her mother in a traditional and simple manner, her personality and habits were shaped correlatively from an early age on. In the story, her character serves the purpose of elucidating the intensely distinct standpoints towards culture between her and her sister. Clues about the role distributions are found in Walker's physical descriptions of the characters.

None of these things are particularly glamorous, but it is Walker's intention to show that through her heritage the mother possesses skills of her predecessors. These abilities make her tough and independent.

Walker, Alice - Everyday Use - Interpretation of the short story

Maggie, the daughter at home, is shy and scared and remains by her mother's side as an obedient shadow. As well as her mother, she is not physically attractive or stylish. However, by helping her mother in their daily life, she becomes accustomed to using old hand- made tools from her ancestors and therewith learns their history.

His name was Henry, but they called him Stash. Maggie and her mother are the ones who truly appreciate the treasures that carry the memories and traditions of earlier family members. They symbolize the connection betwe en generations and the heritage that passed between them in their frugal but contented life. Dee, on the other hand, is described as being light skinned, with nice hair and a full figure. Being the only person in the family who ever attended college she still is narrow-minded and materialistic.

Her conception of culture lies in tangible things that depict her heritage, i. The day she finally returns home to visit her family, her first thing to do is taking Polaroid pictures of her family and their house. On every everyday use by alice walker themes of race and ethnicity she makes sure the house is visible in the background11, which confirms the assumption that Dee fails to understand that material things do not carry the real cultural heritage. It represented both a conclusion to the decade's civil rights movement and a reaction against the racism that persisted despite the efforts of black activists.

Black Americans started to seek their cultural roots in Africa, without knowing too much about the continent and its history. Alice Walker, on the other hand, had lived in Africa long enough to see the difference between the reality there and the Africa praised by the black population. In the story, Dee is portrayed as the perfect example of the black student seeking for an Everyday use by alice walker themes of race and ethnicity backround. Once she discovers the trend of glorifying African culture roots, she quickly adapts to it and attempts to milk her own heritage for all its artistic and monetary worth.

This stands in conflict with her former disposition for she had despised her black roots when she was still living together with her family as she blamed her heritage for their poor lifestyle and living conditions13. Evidently, she has chosen her new name to express solidarity with her African ancestors and to reject the oppression implied by the taking on of American names by black slaves15. This again clarifies her attitude towards culture and heritage, as she wants to deny her history by taking on a different name.

She continually criticized the tendency among African Americans of trading in their names for African names that do neither embody any personal history nor relate to persons they know.

The first name Wangero, for example, could resemble a Kik uyu name, a small people in Kenya. It exists as Wanjiru which is one of their nine clan names.

Leewanika, the middle name, resembles Lewanika, who was a Zambian king in Barotseland from 1842 to 1916. It is the stitching together of hundreds of tiny pieces of fabric from clothes of deceased family members in certain patterns. They are supposed to preserve the history and the memory of the ancesto rs as quilts are not only to be seen as blankets but comprise the story of a family over many generations.

As they have been worked on by two generations, they contain: The mother sees their practicality and usefulness23 ; every piece of fabric is a vivid memory of everyday use by alice walker themes of race and ethnicity ancestors. The mother finally recognizes that Dee never wanted the quilts for the love of the family, that she has not understood the concept of tradition. Influenced by the political activism at that time, these women are searching for individual identities.

In my opinion, Walker wants to convey that culture and heritage are neither name changes nor different hair; they are not something to be adopted for the sake of a trend but to be taught from one generation to the next.

Indiana University Press, 1993 2. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1984 4. A-Dral Wiesbaden, 1983 6.