What is the importance of names in "Everyday Use"?For example, what does “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo”?

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gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Names are very important in Walker's fine short story "Everyday Use." They represent a relationship to heritage and identity. When Dee renames herself Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, she's trying to claim the right and ability to control her own destiny. She wants to be the person she decides she should be. That's admirable, but she does so in a way that sets aside her family's heritage, and, in a way, shows a lack of respect for it. Dee doesn't see it this way.  She says, "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me." For her, the heritage isn't one of pride, but of oppression, even shame.

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Everyday Use

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