Everyday Use By Alice Walker Analysis Essay

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Walker’s short story “Everyday Use" demonstrates the use of characterization by connecting the qualities of Mama, Maggie, and Dee to the overall theme of heritage. Each character is given unique qualities that allow the reader to compare and contrast their views on the definition of heritage. These characteristics determine the character’s view on their ancestry, whether thought of by an academic standpoint, or a more simple, cultural stance. The main character and narrator of the story, Mama, isn’t necessarily knowledgable from a scholastic outlook. “I had never had an education myself. After second grade the school was closed down (pg 111).” Though she isn’t educated in a standard way, Mama knows a lot about her own ancestry and her family’s …show more content…
“‘What I don’t understand?’ I wanted to know. ‘Your heritage,’ she said (pg 116).” Instead of connecting her culture to immediate family, Dee yearns for an understanding of her ancient ancestry. She does this by changing her family name to an African one. “‘No Mama, she says. ‘Not “Dee,” Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo (pg 112)!’” Before she had this sudden urge to reconnect with her heritage, Dee wanted nothing to do with it. “I didn't want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old-fashioned, out of style (pg 115).” Dee’s prides herself on her ancient ancestry, but opposes her embarrassing immediate family and her humble beginnings. By giving them unique qualities, Walker is able to connect the characters in “Everyday Use” with the overall theme of heritage. Mama and Maggie’s uneducated, but content attitudes reflect their view on preserving the memories of their heritage. Dee’s opinions however, contradict those of her family and views her heritage from an academic standpoint. Whether relating back to ancient Africa or remembering close family members through everyday objects, the characters in “Everyday Use” have certain characteristics that strengthen the overall theme of heritage in the short