Everyday Use, the Confusion of Heritage

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Kiersten Shea March 6, 2014 EN 102- Sec 10 Maggie and Dee In Alice Walker’s story, Everyday Use shows that the two opposite ideas of Dee and Maggie teach a valuable lesson about family heritage and how it should be portrayed. Maggie can be described as timid and shy whereas, Dee is outgoing and intelligent. Alice Walker uses Maggie and Dee as foils to suggest that the significance of heritage is not solely represented by material things. Maggie’s lack of a formal school education shows that heritage is not just based on material items. Maggie has an authentic education of her heritage but does not have any formal education. Mama states when Maggie reads, “she stumbles along good naturedly but can’t see well. She knows she is not bright” (Walker 478). When it comes to Dee, she can read perfectly because she went to school unlike her mother and sister. Mama can’t help but feel ignorant compared to her daughter Dee. Mama describes her feelings and states, “She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know” (Walker 477). Mama states this because she and Maggie know what is truly important and that is the real understanding of how their heritage should be viewed. Maggie and mama have a similar understanding of their heritage. Dee mistakes her family background for material and desires racial heritage because she went to school with other people and friends with popular ideas. Maggie never experienced school other than her family life. Maggie’s appearance and style shows that heritage is not solely defined by material things. Mama describes Maggie as “… homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe” (Walker 476). The scars on Maggie’s body from the fire have shaped her personality and represent a deeper meaning. To
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