The Deserving Daughter Essay, Research Paper
Having a genuine understanding of the true meaning of heritage is sometimes expressed in simple ways. In Alice Walker s short story Everyday Use, makes a far more effective statement in painting out that authentic black culture becomes artificial when its artifacts are worshipped for their own sake and not used as they were intended (Callahan 402). In this short story, a woman is torn in the decision to which of her two daughters will receive two heirloom quilts. Maggie, the oldest daughter, is promised her grandma s quilts for her wedding. In the end, Mama makes sure Maggie gets the quilts, realizing they were deservedly hers. Maggie exhibits a true kinship with her heritage by learning the art of quilting, understanding the importance of using the artifacts of her heritage, and being proud of where she comes from. Maggie is taught, by her Mama, Grandma Dee, and her Aunt Dicie, the art of quilting. The two heirloom quilts promised to her were made of scraps from dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Jarrell s paisley shirts. And one teeny piece of faded blue piece, about the size of a penny match box, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra s uniform that was wore in the Civil War (Walker 95). Although Maggie wanted to keep the quilts, She is willing to give them to her sister Dee so not to cause problems. She knows that they are a symbol and not having the quilts will not keep her from remembering her family. She stated, I can member Grandma Dee without the quilts (96).
She also knows that the art of quilt making is an active process, kept alive through continuous renewal. Maggie understands the importance of using the artifacts of her heritage. Unlike Dee, she understands that they are a way of life in the present; not just in their history. Mama puts the quilts in Maggie s lap because she knows that she will use them. She probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use. (96). This statement made by Dee shows that she does not truly understand her heritage the way Maggie does. Mama realizes this and replies, I reckon she would. I hope she will. (96). Maggie never has intentions of displaying the quilts on the wall as Dee wants to because they were not just items of her ancestry, but special memories as well. Maggie, unlike Dee, is not ashamed of her family or where she lives. Maggie takes pride in her home. She helps Mama make the yard so clean and wavy. . . that it is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room when the hard clay is swept clean as a floor (90). Even though she is the oldest daughter, she remains home with Mama. Maggie enjoys the simple pleasures of her family life and home. For example, the two of us sat there just enjoying, until it was time to go in the house and go to bed (97). Even though, neither daughter is rightly entitled to theheritage more than the other, Maggie deserves the quilts morethan Dee does because she understands the true meaning of herblack culture and did not take it for granted. Maggie was evenwilling to give up her rights to them knowing Dee does notappreciate the quilts like she does. Mama is so moved byMaggie s love of quilting, intentions of continuing the heritage,and having pride in the heirlooms for more personal reasons thatMaggie ends up with the quilts.