In Alice Walker's celebrated short story "Everyday Use," the theme of cultural identity and heritage is explored through Dee's rejection of her traditional family name and the characters' conflicting ideas regarding significant family heirlooms.
Dee is depicted as an educated, confident young woman who subscribes to the Black Nationalism movement in an attempt to embrace her traditional African heritage while simultaneously rejecting America's oppressive culture, which includes part of her ancestry. Dee changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo as a way to establish her new identity as an independent, proud African woman. In doing so, Dee rejects her traditional family heritage in favor of renouncing the former slave owners that initially named her ancestors.
Mama responds to her daughter's new identity by explaining that Dee was named after her aunt Dicie, who was named after Grandma Dee and a long line of ancestors carrying the same name, dating past the Civil War. While Dee...
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