The Implication Of Heritage In “Everyday Use”

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The conflict in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" surrounds the idea of heritage, and how important it is to a family. Heritage helps to develop principles, which in turn show what a person believes in, specifically relating to the morals, ethics, and values of his or her family. Mrs. Johnson, Dee/Wangero's and Maggie's mother, is the narrator of this story, and it is evident at the beginning of the story, when she describes her clean yard as "like an extended living room" (pp. 267-268) that she is proud of her home. Even though most people would describe her home as a shack, being proud of it shows that she values what she has and doesn't complain about not living in luxury. The dwelling place of a family often reveals a great deal about that particular family's heritage, so since Mrs. Johnson values her home; she values her heritage.

She also reveals that she believes in having a close family when she describes her dream about being on a TV program. Here her daughter "Dee" comes on and hugs her, telling her how she appreciates all that she has done, and this dream of a hug in public reveals that she values the closeness of her daughter demonstrating another aspect of the family's heritage, the importance intimacy within a household.

Dee/ Wangero, the narrator's oldest daughter, while living with her mother and sister, was self-centered and ashamed of the heritage represented by her home life and living conditions. Dee's shame at her heritage is known because she had brought very few friends to her mother's house. Furthermore, Dee always wanted things that she did not have. For example, when the other house they had lived in burned, Dee was very happy because she was ashamed her house...