Everyday Use by Alice Walker

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The Impact of Self-Identity and Heritage within the Family

Families can shape our behaviors directly or indirectly. They pass their values, beliefs, expectations on to the younger ones, and they teach us how to socialize with others. Often times, families do not realize how important it is to teach their kids to be accurate and embrace themselves. But, it is more important than most people think. Why? Because these early years of learning are the foundation for their personality and how they will behave in the future. Which eventually, will have a direct effect on their lives and interpersonal relationships later.

In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, the author talks about a black family that goes through an uncomfortable situation when the two sisters have different ideas over the family’s heirloom quilts. The two sisters are completely different from each other, shaped by different experiences and environments. Dee, was sent to college with the help of her mother’s church. She was always the prettier, “smarter,” and successful sibling. Maggie was the introvert sister who stayed on the farm and admired her sister for being everything she is not.

The author also narrates how the mother of both girls also felt insecure about herself. She had dreams where she was a different person. In her dreams, she was everything Dee wanted her to be. But in reality, she also felt somewhat proud of herself for being good at “what a man does.” Dee also changed her name to “Wangero,” a more suitable name to honor her African ancestry.

In this case, we see a clear example of both sisters having trouble accepting and embracing themselves and their culture, as well as their mom. Maggie, who was the shy sibling, felt insecure about herself because she compared herself to her sister. Her sister, Dee (Wangero), identified herself with her culture, but at the same time, she was embarrassed by it. Almost like she felt like her family and where she came from was not good enough. Finally, the mother decided to give one quilt to each sister, but Dee chose to decline and leave.

This is a perfect example of parents projecting their insecurities on to their kids. The mother, in efforts to give her daughters a better life, she ended up feeling insecure about herself. It is essential that we teach our kids to embrace themselves and their culture. But also, to accept other’s beliefs and preferences. Dee, was happy with her “big city” change and all the opportunities being offered to her. On the other hand, Maggie and her mom, even though they lived a completely different lifestyle, they were happy with where they were. However, if they had accepted themselves as they were, where they came from and respected each other’s beliefs; the story would probably have ended differently.

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Everyday Use by Alice Walker. (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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