"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker- symbolism

Essay by car1a26High School, 11th grade May 2006

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Culture is something picked up from one generation to next, not suddenly acquired. Making use of culture in everyday life shows a dedication and understanding to the culture. Maggie, the younger daughter, was an example that heritage passes from one generation to another through a learning and experience connection, while her sister misunderstood the impact of heritage and only considered it to be in material objects. This conflict was shared through the mother, and the reader was forced to look in themselves for their beliefs in order to side with one or the other.

The quilt represented in a major way the separation of opinions the family had about what the correct everyday use for the quilt was. For the mother, the blanket symbolized the action of soothing and comforting a "sick" child. Since Maggie had certain incapability's due to her mental and physical abuse resulting from the fire, the mother considered her young daughter somewhat helpless, and felt the motherly need to protect her.

It was important to the mother to keep the blanket in her youngest girl's possession because the blanket represented the affection and calming that Maggie needed and that the mother knew the blanket would deliver. The mother and Maggie symbolize the connection between generations and the heritage that passed between them. Maggie continues to live at home and as her mother cannot always deliver everything to Maggie, they need to make use of everything they have accessible to them. Maggie's mother believes that the use of the blanket for its sole purpose makes more sense than using it for decoration. This leads the reader to side with the mother, having sympathy for their lower class living and their greater needs.

Dee makes the mistake of classifying culture as a material thing. Throughout...