Monday, June 8, 2009

The Battle of Heritage?

In the short story ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker, the issue of heritage is discussed. Conflict stirs around the quilts, a symbol of their heritage. Two sisters have different views on how to value the heritage.

The younger of the two, Maggie, plans to put the quilts to everyday use. Dee argues that this will cause them the lost of the heritage. Then, another form of heritage is introduced- the knowledge of making quilts. Maggie knows how to make quilts. Thus, putting the current quilts to everyday use, is not a waste at all.

However, Dee has a different view on the issue of heritage. She feels that the quilts should only be used as a decoration piece. She further argues that Maggie’s knowledge will not preserve the heritage as she will not be using the pieces of cloth from the older generation. Using the quilts will destroy these pieces as time takes place.

So, who is the antagonist of the story?
Can we really see Dee as the antagonist merely because she disagrees with her mother and sister?

From this short story, I’ve learnt two things.
1. Just because people have different views, it does not mean that they are bad or wrong. Every individual is unique. And every different thought is unique.
2. Knowledge is one thing that people can’t take away from you. Although Dee wants to take the quilts, she will not be able to take away her knowledge on making quilts.

This second realisation presents and irony. Dee is the educated one in the story, but, it is her iliterate sister who holds the knowledge to their heritage…

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