To each person, the word heritage means something a little different. In our readings, we looked at seven works that all focused on heritage.
?Everyday Use? by Alice Walker is a story about how to truly appreciate one?s heritage. The mother and sister, Maggie, live in the same style of house their family has always lived in. Poor and uneducated, they live simply, as their family always has. Maggie?s sister, Dee, who has an education and only wants what is fashionable and stylish, returns home only to take some of their family heirlooms. When her mother refuses to let her have two quilts made from their ancestors old clothing, Dee, who prefers to be called Wangero, claims that her mother and Maggie do not appreciate the value and heritage behind the quilts because they plan to keep them for everyday use. Wangero is the one who does not truly understand their heritage.
The quilts were made to be used and cherished, not displayed and exploited. This story illustrates two very different viewpoints of heritage. First, Wangero views her heritage as something of convenience, which she can reject when embarrassing, yet embrace when there is some other benefit to her. On the other hand, the mother and Maggie truly understand their heritage. They pass down the traditions of their ancestors and continue to use the heirlooms for which they were intended. Their heritage is a way of life and remembrance, not a stylish fad to exploit.
?No Name Woman? is the story of how a Chinese family came to deny the existence of one of its women. An ancestor of the family in China dishonored the family by having an affair outside of her marriage and being pregnant as a result. The village destroyed the family?s livelihood and possessions as punishment...