“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

Subject: Literature
Pages: 1
Words: 189
Reading time:
< 1 min
Study level: College

This story tells about a woman’s decision to give family heirlooms to one of her daughters. Mama chooses Maggie when she realizes that Maggie’s perceptions of heritage and preserving culture are right and justified. Dee described those quilts as “old-fashioned, out of style,” while Maggie learned to create her own quilt (Walker 57). Dee was not interested in that ancient staff, but Maggie wanted to carry on the family traditions. Somehow Dee decides to revere her roots by changing her given in honor of relatives’ name to an African one, wearing traditional clothes, and putting “priceless” quilts on the wall due to their aesthetical value (Walker 57). Dee sees heritage in an overly materialistic way and patterns that have not been connected to her life experience. At the same time, Maggie considers her heritage in family, traditions, and keeping the memory of relatives. Maggie emphasizes it, saying she can “’member Grandma Dee without the quilts”, highlighting the importance of remembering people, not items (Walker 58). Thus, Mama’s choice is determined by her daughters’ understanding of legacy: Maggie feels connected to their heritage, whereas Dee aims to demonstrate her origin.

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Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” The Jazz Fiction Anthology, edited by Sascha Feinstein and David Rife, Indiana University Press, 2009, pp. 17-48.

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women, Harvest Books, 1974, pp. 47-59.