This is an essay based off the short story "Every Day Use" and the symbolism of the quilts

Essay by i4gotCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2003

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Through distinct family members and views in "Everyday Use", Alice Walker demonstrates the significance of understanding our present life in relation to the traditions of our own people and culture. Using careful images and attitudes, Walker demonstrates which factors play a part to the values of one's tradition and culture; she illustrates that these are represented not by the possession of objects or sheer appearances, but by one's lifestyle and attitude. In "Everyday Use" Walker embodies the different sides of culture and heritage that is represented in the quilts through the characters oft the mother (the narrator), Dee, and Maggie.

Mama knows the traditions and history behind the quilts; she puts her ancestors memories to every day use. The story clearly endorses Mama's simple, unsophisticated view of heritage. She has inherited many customs and traditions from her ancestors. She describes herself as "a large big-boned woman with rough man-working hands"(355).

She also describes her various abilities including, "I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man...I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing"(355). While these feats are not extraordinary, this exemplifies what Mama has learned from her ancestors, and that being resilient and tough is apart of her heritage. Mama is very proud of her abilities and her accomplishments.

Dee is aware the quilts are hand made by her ancestors, nevertheless remains unaware of the knowledge and history behind them. The quilts are composed of an electric array of material including "scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell's paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece...that was from Great Grandpa Ezra's uniform he wore in the Civil War"(359). Dee

decides she wants the quilts to hang on the wall...