This paper argues that Mama made the right decision in, "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker. When Mama gave the quilts to Maggie and did not let Dee take them away to hang them on her wall like in a museum to show off her perceived roots, to showcase her heritage. Walker's short story raises questions about how identity, tradition and ideology are connected to each other and provides her own personal answer to it. The 1960's saw a pragmatic and systematized raising of black consciousness, which brought with it an intense interest in Africa that was aided by different Cultural Nationalist movements, like Rastafarianism, the, "Back to Africa," movement etc. and made this search the focus of Afro-American fiction, (Bishop, Christian 10-13). This was the social background of the period when Everyday Use was written and it is generally perceived to be Walker's criticism of the African American obsession with its African roots and it provides Walker's answer to what heritage means and how it should be handled, (Christian 7). The short story shows with humor, but little traceable compassion from the writer's part, how blind Dee's fixation with trying to claim her heritage makes her towards seeing the truth of the African American experience and how she only accepts what she has read about it. This paper intends to highlight how Walker's message can be interpreted to showcase the importance of using and living, to a certain extent, in ones traditions to make them truly a part of one's identity.
Cash argues that the real history, the real story of quilting is about kinship across generations between African American women as well as mutual cooperation with the aim of being self-reliant and capable of self-help. He claims that by studying their work it enables the later generations to learn and see working class African American women who were usually illiterate and repressed without a way to tell their stories in conventional ways to their kin and the greater public accomplish this feat by demonstrating through their quilts that they are they are persons with their own minds and voices, (38).