"Everyday Use" "Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter" American Melting Pot

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English 1102 April 17, 2007 “The American Melting Pot: Devourer of Cultures” Both Dee in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Shyamoli in Chitra Divakaruni’s “Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter” purposely reject their family heritage in the hope of reshaping their own cultural identities to “fit in” with those who live in modern day America. Mama portrays Dee as the most intelligent daughter in the family, but also as the most superficial and naïve because of her tendency to prioritize fashion and trends instead of family and traditions. Dee’s aspirations to own the family heirlooms for decorative purposes, such as the quilt, only furthers her disconnection from her family’s ancestral culture and strengthens her false assimilation into the superficial teenage American culture which continues to pressure her to conform to society and deny her true cultural identity. Shyamoli, like Dee, is also pressured into the idea that she is obligated to be a part of the modern day American culture, which is the community she lives in. To conform she must reject her heritage and adopt new behavioral patterns and attitudes or else she will be an outcaste, just as Mrs. Dutta is by the neighbors when she hangs her clothes over the fence joining the neighbor’s yards. Alice Walker and Chitra Divakaruni stress the importance of not abandoning one’s heritage due to peer pressure or just to avoid conflict, but embrace it because the importance of heritage and carrying on family traditions are far more rewarding than temporarily pleasing a certain social group or individual. As America continues to strengthen its metaphorical cultural assimilation, deemed the melting pot; cultures and traditions continue to weaken while becoming absorbed into or lost to American trends. The Black Power movement during the 1960’s and 1970’s is a prime example of how cultures can become apart of trends and
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