Everyday Use Heritage Analysis

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The Fight of the True Meaning of Heritage in “Everyday Use” In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, she “addresses herself to the problems of African Americans who risk deracination in their quest for personal authenticity” (Cowart). The story main conflict is the struggle over homemade quilts which symbolize understanding of heritage, which is shown through the characters Dee and Maggie who have two different approaches on the word. Dee understanding of the word heritage is erasing American culture and going back to African roots, while Maggie portrays the meaning as preserving thoughts and family possessions from one generation to the next. The theme of heritage and the plot of this story are shown by using situational irony. Situational irony …show more content…
One example of this continuing conflict of understanding heritage is shown through the family’s quilts. In any culture, but especially in the African American culture, quilt making is seen as a story telling of family history. It is seen as an autobiography because scraps of clothing from the recent ancestors are stitched together to make the quilt, “These are all pieces of dresses Grandma used to wear. She did all this stitching by hand… come from old clothes her mother handed down to her” ( Walker 495-96). In family legacies, it is often the oldest children that are offered family heirlooms. Therefore, Dee, who is the oldest, was offered the quilts by her mother before she went to college but, “then she had told me they were old-fashioned, out of style” (Walker 496). Situational irony really takes affect here because when Dee returned home, she thought she could get the quilts so she could go back to her city living and put the quilts up for decoration. However, Maggie was given the quilts so she could be able to put them to everyday use like they were intended to be used for when they were