Culture and Identity in Everyday Use Essay

Total Length: 936 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 6

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.....characters come into conflict with the culture in which they live.

What interests you most about this prompt and why?

This prompt interests me because I like stories about conflict -- stories in which characters clash with their surroundings. It is very easy to connect with stories like this, as I often feel like separate from much of what goes on around me. Stories of culture are also very interesting because they are full of history and people, stories and humanity -- and I am very interested in the human experience, what it means to be human, what it is that makes us who we are, why we think certain things, how things change, how ideas clash, how cultures come into conflict with one another. There is a lot to explore with this prompt.

What text will you write about? Why?

"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker: I thought this story was very funny and very simply told from a mother's perspective as she sees her daughter return home from the college she sacrificed so much to send her to -- only to see that her daughter has taken on a pseudo-identity in order to "tap into" the heritage and culture of her "people". Ironically, her daughter misses the point of heritage and culture and people completely -- by politicizing it, she neglects the human element and dismisses her own family in her pursuit of her so-called heritage.
It is a very ironic story yet it is also full of heart and empathy because the mother never condemns her daughter: she still sees in Dee her daughter even if Dee is somewhat changed and misguided at the moment.

What is your working thesis? Keep in mind that "working thesis" means you can slightly modify your thesis for the draft and/or final essay.

Walker's tale represents how one can be socio-politically "enlightened" and yet still be ignorant of one's own actual culture.

What are three key ideas that you will discuss in support of your thesis? (Write one -- and only one -- sentence for each point.

a. Dee is searching for authenticity and latches on to material possessions, thinking these represent what she is looking for.

b. Dee's "African name" is inauthentic but reflects her socio-political rejection of white culture.

c. The mother does not judge Dee because….....

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