Everyday Use is Alice walker’s short story written in the 1960s about cultural discrepancies in the 1950s and 60s in an American society that arose about by racial issues. The story is a reflection about how one’s culture and heritage can be seen from different angles, the story mainly focuses on the cultural conflict between Maggie and Dee, who are sisters.
Heritage is something that is onto a person upon his/her birth. Some of the aspects that make up one’s heritage include tradition, cultural influence, physical inheritance and heredity and also a person’s foundation of one’s life since birth. Walker’s story brings into light the conflict between a genuine understanding of true family and a pretentious root seeking origins. In the story, Dee represents the young educated black woman who attempts to reclaim her heritage through denying their immediate roots that made them feel that they were truly embracing their “true” heritage. We are shown that Dee has never been with ease about her upbringing especially the simple life which was provided to her. Her mother wanted Dee to be satisfied and she even collaborated with the local church and sent her to a boarding school. In contrast to Dee is her sister Maggie, she was very concerned about how she looked due to fire burns she sustained earlier. She is more reserved and apprehensive (Jeremy, 2010).
Mrs. Johnson, Dee’s mother, and her family lived in a humble house because they were poor. Dee was ashamed of this and that is why she says she will never bring anyone to visit her at home, but one day she brings a male companion with her. She treats her mother and with disrespect. In the story, the point of consternation is when Dee asks for her mother for all the quilts she had sewn, she wanted all the quilts (and could take no for an answer) and put them on the wall. The quilts represented the history of Johnson family. Basically Dee wanted the quilts to put them on display; hang them on the wall so that her friends will think she is better than she is. Ironically, they represent where she came from (Jeremy, 2010).
Unlike Dee, Maggie embraced her heritage from the start and learned from her mother and understands well where she fits in the picture and is well satisfied with her place. In keeping with tradition, Maggie understands what her heritage is and captures the spirit of what a family is to her.
The story raises the question whether heritage should be preserved and displayed or integrated into daily life. But walker answers this by outcome of Dee’s and Maggie’s story; integration of the heritage into life and should shape the people we became (Jeremy, 2010).
The Haitian heritage is a month (May) set aside to remember the unity reached by the black and mulatto officers to fight together against slavery in St. Domingue for its independence. The month has great historical and cultural traditions that all Haitians celebrate and pass to future generations. Haitian culture; art, food, music and celebrations are learnt during this month. They do this and link to Haitian Americans all over the Diaspora and educate them about their culture and in turn create a legacy for future generations (Haitian Heritage Month).
The story of Alice walker and the Haitian heritage can be compared in very many aspects but the main one is about culture preservation. When Johnson gives Dee the quilts, the author illuminates Johnson’s life-long celebration of rural Southern black womanhood and the quilts suggests the strength of to be found in connecting to one’s roots. This is exactly what the Haitian heritage is all about, learning about their culture (art, historic artifacts, ethnic sounds and enjoy their literary works). Black identity is another issue that the two stories raise that should be addressed and be celebrated about not shunning your identity if you are black.
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