For the week of the 28th, I want to focus on the piece by Elizabeth Groeneveld and her response to a 2006 issue of Bust magazine in which she explores the idea of a fashionable feminist. Before proceeding, I have to confess that while I try to keep up with feminist issues, I am not always involved in the nitty gritty details of the debate. I found Groeneveld's study of what it means to be a feminist and the role that fashion plays in this to be of great interest, because it was something that I had never really thought about before. I never got the impression that she was being overly critical of the Bust magazine piece, but rather wanted to focus on not only the limitations of the magazine’s spread, but draw attention to the complexity of what it means to be a feminist.
One of the points I gravitated towards was the issue concerning choice, which is a feminist issue usually caught up in the debate over abortion, but can and is extended to include a variety of subjects, for example career choices. Groeneveld’s focus on the issue of choice is assigned to the topic of fashion. As she explains the argument about fashion and its application to the issue of choice, “women should be free to wear whatever they wish, contains an implicit assumption about free choice, which fails to acknowledge the way in which choice occurs within contexts that are socially constructed and are thus always already constrained and limited through that context” (182). If feminism is about choice, how do we extend this to fashion decisions? In thinking about fashion, I can not help but think about Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze. Although this theory is largely viewed in the context of the cinema screen, the idea of women being objectified for a male gaze obviously has real life implications as well. The idea of fashion for a woman is one that automatically places an emphasis on her physical appearance. It has the potential to limit a woman and take away from other attributes that she may possess. However, if feminism is about choice then does this choice include what a women can wear for an outfit? It seems to me to be a very fine line in promoting choice, while at the same time being mindful of the male gaze, or limiting a woman solely based on what she is wearing. I have had conversations with women in the professional field who do feel pressure to dress a certain way.
I think that it is a complex issue: the debate surrounding choice and not adhering to a specific male and sometimes female standard of what should be worn. I wish that I could provide an answer to this debate, but I feel inadequate in voicing my opinion. Why do I feel this way? I’m honestly not sure. I do however, see the value in providing a choice to women, as the issue of choice ties in with the overall issue of equal rights between the sexeses.
Out of the pieces we read this week, I enjoyed Everyday Use by Alice Walker. We definitely read this in our other class; at first I thought I saw it in a movie but it’s probably because I could picture what was happening in my mind. Who knows! It’s really interesting to see the speaker put her daughter Dee on a pedestal (culturally, at least) throughout the piece, yet, she makes it clear how indecent of a person Dee is and she is aware of her nasty demeanor. Not to sound like a total B, but Dee reminds me of my sister (though way worse); she acts as if she knows everything and should get whatever is it that she wants. They’re both the older sister so maybe that has something to do with it! I digress. Anyway, I did not like how the speaker talked down about herself and about Maggie. I mean, she basically illustrated herself as a man and states that she was always better at a man’s job; it’s not a man’s job if a woman is doing it! It truly breaks my heart that she says she is the opposite of what her daughter (Dee) wants her to be. Dee is obviously extremely different than her mother and Maggie, she even identifies that “hesitation was no part of her nature” illustrating the separation between them. When it comes to the physical, the speaker seems to praise Dee a little bit and contrasts her to Maggie whose face is burned. Up until the very end, the speaker is so negative about her feelings of herself and Maggie. Also, it was really weird to hear a mother say, or think, that she thought one of her daughters hated the other—it really unsettled me. The speaker is also funny, unknowingly so; when she meets Dee’s man-boy-friend she thinks that his name is Asalamalakim even though he is just saying hello. However, I was extremely uncomfortable with the section where she states how he looks at her; “He just stood there grinning, looking down on me like somebody inspecting a model car.” I hate this. The speaker is no naïve and is obviously aware that he is acting as though he is above her, but to make her feel like she is being inspected? Who do you think you are? You’re supposed to IMPRESS the mother of the girl you’re with, not act elitist. I love that the entitled Dee does not get what she wants from her mother this time. I mean, she says she wants to ask her mom for something but she doesn’t really want to ask for it because she is expecting to receive it. I lost it when she said that “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts” and that hanging a quilt was the only way to appreciate it. Whether Maggie wants to look at the history of the quilt on a wall or while snuggled up in it, there is no wrong way to appreciate something. Dee really is obnoxious. Dee further exemplifies how ridiculous she is at the end of the story when she tells her mother that she doesn’t understand her heritage. How can you tell someone what their heritage is? Also, two people can have the same heritage but celebrate it differently. I liked the end as well; it was perfect that Maggie smiled as the story concluded, and that it was a genuine smile and not a scared smile.
I didn’t enjoy I Remember Mamma: Material Rhetoric Mnemonic Activity and One Woman’s Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Quilt by Liz Rohan as much, probably because it wasn’t a story. I did like the idea of a diary having more than one use: educational tool, behavior modification device, and a memory keeping function. I think that there is a point that is too far, at least in the case of Janette Miller; she was monitoring her life daily and it seemed as though she was her own study subject. I agree that memory is connected to objects. In particular, I love the line, “memory had to be housed outside the mind—elsewhere, in things,” but by doing so memory is in the mind or is triggered in the mind, when the object is present. From what I gathered in the reading, it is not just the thing/object itself that is the memory but the making of it is a cultural experience. However, we have to be mindful of how things are interpreted. When I think of that, I think of writing something down and then wondering what the heck I meant when I wrote that. Sometimes, since we have changed, our outlook and how we interpret even what we ourselves have wrote, changes too. Although this piece discusses how people are worried about forgetting in the past, I know that holds true today as well. I do so many things to help myself remember but the way that I do this is different than they did back then (I mostly write myself notes, text myself, or set alarms etc… with some poetry on the side as well.) I found it interesting that the memory making is seen as a process; which I think depends on what exactly you are remembering, but I do think that we link memories with these devices, as the article says.
Liz Rohan’s article “I Remember Mamma: Material Rhetorics, Mnemonic Activity, and One Woman’s Turn-of-the-Twentieth Century Quilt” explores rhetoric by focusing on it material, tangible elements. Furthermore, Rohan addresses the mnemonic activity associated with constructing material rhetoric. This is set in the backdrop of the nineteenth century, and through the relationship between Janette Miller and her mother, who was very ill during Janette’s quilt making.
Rohan references Richard Terdiman’s assertion that there was a “memory crisis” occurring in the nineteenth century, due to information overload occurring in the social sphere. Today, there is also a widely held belief that we are living in an age where people are constantly bombarded with information that is impossible to retain for long periods of time. The invention of Google, for instance, has compounded this notion since virtually anything we wish to learn is only a few mouse clicks away. For this response, in particular, I would like to address contextual information Rohan is engaging her audience with, and, as well, relating it to the way we can reinterpret a form of material rhetorics for the 21st century.
In the article, Rohan writes, “Mary Carruthers suggests a metaphorical link among materiality, memory, and cognition, a connection that might broaden an understanding of the relationship among objects, memory, and rhetorical practices by considering memory as a craft” (370). Memory is most certainly a craft, as Rohan also believes, and the way memory can be composed, rhetorically, is represented in the nineteenth century’s domestic circle through letter, diaries, clothing, drawings, and photos, just to name a handful. Rohan, further, writes, that “These mnemonic devises foreground memory-making as a complex multimodal endeavor dependent on a wide range of technologies, all of which mediated Janette’s memory-making activity connected to values prescribed to middle-class women at the end of the nineteenth century” (371). These “technologies” that Rohan writes about are within a nineteenth century context, and, truly, an admiringly beautiful way to reconstruct memory through physical representations. Today, though, are there ways to reinterpret multimodal engagement in the 21st century.
Remixing video, creating blog sites for self-publishing, and the new world of social media, for example, has all influenced the way people engage in multimodal forms of rhetoric and composition. Strict composition through Western expected forms of linear composition are not the only way we, and our students, learn how to achieve rhetorical and compositional purposes. Could this be considered a form of material rhetoric? In all honestly, I am not sure, yet, how I feel about this comparison. Yes, they may all be technological ways to engage in multimodal composition, but is this material?
There is a certain beauty to something have a much more physical presence. It is difficult to feel a body’s care and consideration in digital creations, more often than not, but not difficult to feel in the making of a quilt. Hearing the story told through Rohan, and imagining the quilt in your hands relays a certain sense of nostalgia and careful beauty that may be different than my 21st century comparison.
Jillian Smith Dr. Anderson ENGL 521 4 November 2014
This week, we read an article by Liz Rohan and a short story by Alice Walker that both had something to do with mother-daughter relationships and the significance of quilts. Liz Rohan’s article analyzes how Janette Miller’s diary and the quilt she describes within it are rhetorical and serve to help her remember her mother. Alice Walker’s story shows how one of the narrator’s daughters wants possession of the family quilts and other heirlooms because it is trendy to put them on display, but she fails to understand the contextual meaning of these specific items the way her sister does. She ironically accuses her mother of not understanding “your heritage” while she herself wishes to be called by a new name she has to explain instead of her given name that has been in the family for many generations (6).
I really enjoyed reading these pieces and the conversation with my parents that they inspired. My mom is a quilter, and she commemorates events like births, weddings, and moving to a new home with gifts of homemade quilts. My dad has written a book on our family history that combines photos of relatives, newspaper clippings, immigration documents, etc. with his annotations and anecdotes—unlike Janette Miller, he says his purpose actually is record keeping “for posterity” (369). We found many connections between the readings and what they each do and how those practices are connected to but different from the past.
In “Everyday Use”, Dee is critical of the quilts her mother offers her in lieu of the ones promised to Maggie because the use of a sewing machine apparently makes them less authentic even if it increases their durability (5). She only wants to display them, just like the churn, of which she wants just a piece (4). Maggie, she worries, would wear them out through use, but in Maggie’s eyes and their mothers’, their use by family members over the years is precisely what makes them valuable. My mom used to sew her quilts strictly by hand, but she does not have enough time to make as many as she needs if she does not use a machine. For her, the act of making the quilt for someone creates a memory like samplers did at the turn of the century (372). She generally uses new fabric, but she does occasionally like to incorporate scraps left over from making one quilt when piecing together another. She has made quilts that reflect shared memories with the intended recipient, as when a colleague has retired, but she does this by choosing fabric with symbolic images rather than used fabric worn on a particularly memorable day. She says the types of fabric for clothing and quilts are not generally as interchangeable as they may have been in the past, although she has made t-shirt quilts.
Rohan shows how Janette Miller’s diary ends around the advent of personal cameras and “Kodak moments” in part because there are now new ways of remembering (382). These have positive and negative effects. For example, my mom does not have a record of all the quilts she has made (easily several hundred), just the first couple and some from recent years, since she has been using an iPhone, because she snaps a quick photo before giving a quilt away. In “Everyday Use”, Dee tries to capture images of her mother’s home, and it is only after that “she puts the Polaroid in the back seat of the car, and comes up and kisses me on the forehead” (3). This story predates social media, but Dee’s behavior foreshadows the obsession with posting pictures of a moment instead of living in it. Rohan argues that Janette Miller’s mourning of her mother would have been influenced by the family’s move and her father’s remarriage very soon after her mother’s death. When my father’s brother died suddenly in 2002, just a week after he retired, my aunt was afraid to move anything in their house lest she forget a memory triggered by the arrangement of things. My dad helped her take pictures of everything and reassured her that they would help her remember as well as the actual objects. When my aunt decided to move into a smaller place, she kept only a few things and pictures of the rest. I asked her how she chose what to keep, and she said something is only worth keeping if you continue to use it.
James Blandino, 11/4/14, Cultural Rhetoric The Keepers of Memory, The Conjuring of Spirits
My cousin Lucia was thrust into the position of chief mourner and matriarch of her family at a very early age. Lucia’s mother Barbara was incarcerated for more than a decade for attempting to overthrow the U.S. government by bombing a State Police barracks with a group of Sicilian communists in the late 1970’s. After the bombing, there was a shootout with police on the highway and Barbara was present but not a shooter. She then fled with her three children (Lucia, Nina, and Ricky) and for several years they lived under false names and could not be in contact with the family. Barbara could not bear to be away from our tight knit clan, so she turned herself in and faced the music. Those years on the run made family, and in particular the keeping of our family tree, that much more important to Lucia as she was separated from her grandmother and grandfather who had previously been her primary caretakers during Barbara’s years in Italy. Barbara is to this day a very passionate and intelligent woman and I love her dearly, but her husband at the time of her transgressions was a very radical and violent person. With her mother in prison, Lucia was left to care for her younger brother and sister, to attempt to keep her mother’s memory from being dragged through the mud as she was silenced behind prison walls, and to care for her dying grandparents. To add to Lucia’s burden, her younger brother Ricky died of a heroin overdose at the age of 24. Lucia, like Janette, as described in the Liz Rohan essay, “was the chief mourner in her family.” Part of it could be Lucia’s type A personality, her powerful mind (ivy league education), and her fearlessness that suited her for taking on this role, but after reading “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker and the Rohan essay, I believe her gender also played a part her position in the family as keeper of memory and conjurer of familial ancestors. Rohan writes, “Nineteenth-century moralists believed women were more sensitive, more pious, and generally closer to heaven than men, an extension of the true womanhood paradigm dictated by nineteenth century Christianity, prescribing that women uphold familial and social relationships.” Closer to heaven, Lucia is certainly close to the souls of our family who reside there. A few years ago, Lucia petitioned the city of Boston to memorialize the Blandino family farm in Dorchester. She wanted to reclaim the land as an urban agricultural space, but ran into major roadblocks; however, a large stone and bronze monument stands there now outside the gates that was paid for by the city. She is also the keeper of the family tree and I see emails from her weekly with updates on the branches. Lucia, like Janette and Maggie, will always remember and preserve the family history. Why did she dive into this role and her brother dive into addiction? It seems that men, in the general sense, do not keep pictures, scrapbooks, quilts, or memorials to family ancestors.
This all leads me to last Saturday night, November 1, 2014, All Souls’ Eve. My cousin Lucia hosted “Café Zarba” (Zarba being my great grandmother’s maiden name), a family open mic night and party. I do not think a man in our family would put on such an event. This was Lucia’s attempt to bring us all together for something other than a funeral. I learned from her that in Sicily (homeland of the Zarba’s and Blandino’s) All Souls’ Eve is bigger than Christmas. We have a musical gene that runs in our family and those who carry it (and those who think they carry it) were encouraged to perform at the party. Lucia grabbed the microphone to open the night off and gave thanks to the many musicians in our family that had past and pointed out their connection to those of us that continue on the tradition of making music. She is not a musician herself, but she loves to see the progression of the music through our family history. She had tears in her eyes all night, but it was a very happy event. She also made reference to All Souls Eve, a time when the spirits of the dead visit the living, and pointed out to the crowd that she had set a table for our ancestors; the table was covered with framed photographs and food. I could feel the presence of their spirits, conjured up by Lucia. The air in the room was thick with energy. Halfway through the night, Lucia pulled out a huge roll of paper that contained the family tree and encouraged all the little children to come and look at the names. Some of them were surprised to see their own name over and over again, as they worked backwards in time. This reminds me of the passing down of the name “Dee” in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”. I am so grateful that Lucia is keeping the memory of not o
Coming from a culture where memories are not preserved and sometimes memories are overlapped by other memories, I found these reading pieces very interesting. This cultural aspect of memory-keeping is something I admire here in the US. People do everything to preserve old objects, old deeds, old stories and old memories. Even though it might have been promoted as business, it actually helps preserve history; something I’d love to see back in Cape Verde. Between the ages of 13-15 I kept a journal where many of my memories of that time are, but it was not something that my family or, in general, society endorsed. I stopped writing journals although until this day I keep and store my daily appointment book. I don’t intend these appointment books be more than my memory-keeping tools, but I think it’ll be interesting to my son knowing what his dad did on November 4th, 2014.
In the article “I Remember Mamma: Material Rhetoric, Mnemonic Activity, and One Woman's Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Quilt”, Liz Rohan connects Janet Miller to her diary writing, quilt making and photo shooting to mnemonic activities. One of the reasons for the need is the fact that: “Women like Janette, coming of age in the late nineteenth century, were likewise encouraged to use diaries to record and memorialize relationships—particularly relationships with their mothers, a facet of "being good" (375). Janet felt the need to preserve memories and re-live them posteriorly, but she also claims that due to her bad memory, and also the overload of information, she needed to write them down so she wouldn’t forget them. Rohan states that, “For Janette, and those who shared her concerns, material objects were epistemologically linked to record-keeping and recollection processes. Memory had to be housed outside the mind—elsewhere, in things.” (370). With the idea of recording moments, the new technology is referenced by the author as new ways of memory-keeping instruments.
Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday use” tells us of Mama and her two daughters and their view towards her old quilts. The quilts, to Mama and Maggie, are seen to historically rich and not as objects to be portrayed as an art form, but as practical and useful household items. Mama also values that fact that Maggie can quilt and so contribute to her family history to upcoming generations. Differently, Dee wants to preserve the quilts and “protect” them from whatever Maggie might do to them; she sees the objects just as display items. This story is very interesting because it deals with a great dilemma: family history preservation through every day use, even though that same history might get lost by valuing (“using”) the quilts or the other option was, as Dee wanted, to take them out of circulation and protect them. Mama decided to risk it and gave the quilts to Maggie; as Mama said if they get destroyed “Maggie can always make some more. Maggie knows how to quilt.” (5) To Mama Maggie could always create new history and preserve it.
The article for this week, “I Remember Mamma: Material Rhetoric, Mnemonic Activity, and One Woman’s Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Quilt” by Liz Rohan looked at the role objects played in facilitating memory development. Using the quilt making activity of a turn of the century woman by the name of Janette Miller, Rohan constructs an argument that explores the relationship between objects and memory making, while also examining the ways in which women of this time period forged their own identity even though there was limitations placed upon them.
What stood out to me was the section on quilts and nineteenth-century values which gave me a better understanding into how important quilt making was to woman of the nineteenth-century. I have always had a fascination with quilts, mostly due to an episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa and Marge bond over a quilt that had been passed down throughout the family. As Marge explains each women of the family adds her own patch to the quilt. The idea of the quilt being the space in which this fictional family history can come to fruition, always struck me as being poignant. This was the site of memories and tradition much in the way the real life quilt of Janette Miller became a rhetorical device that allowed her to preserve the memory of her mother. Maybe it is odd to make that sort of connection, but that is the connection I made: between a fictional family and a family that actually existed. Fact or fiction, there is something about the image that quilt the provokes a reaction to memory and history on a personal level.
One thing that I particularly enjoyed learning about was the idea of mourning and the quilts connection to this practice. Rohan explains how “These sewed items were called friendship or mourning quilts” (374). I was able to understand why quilts might have a sentiment of friendship attached to them, but the idea of mourning, while not completely out of my realm of comprehension, was something that I did not exactly consider. Rohan explains the importance of mourning in the context of the nineteenth century: “mourning became an elongated ritual only when death became less commonplace, and thus matter of fact after the eighteenth century” (374). Rohan further explains that the role of the woman in the nineteenth-century was being that of the moralist. Women during this time period were seen as pious, closer to heaven, and the champion of womanly values. The act of quilting allowed women like Janette to preserve the memory of the deceased. Memory or not forgetting is crucial to almost anyone. According to Rohan, “People were worried about forgetting. They, like, Janette, needed “stuff” like diaries and quilts to help them remember” (375). The quilt becomes the object that enables for this remembrance to happen. The mnemonic function of the quilt allowed for there to be a preservation of Janette’s deceased mother, Clara, while also reinforcing her role as the family mourner. It was interesting to see how the space of that quilt could take one a multitude of different ideas and values
The article I Remember Mama by Liz Rohan suggests that things that help to assist memory (especially in the nineteenth century), Mnemonic materials such as keeping a diary or an old quilt, should also be considered as important parts of rhetoric. Rohan analyses the way people in the nineteenth century, especially women, used diaries (quilts, or even photograph) as tools to remember events/people. Janette, a young woman who kept a diary during the nineteenth century, used diaries so that she could remember things, in her daily basis, or important events. Janette recorded things on her diary so that she would not forget them. Maybe there was a “memory crisis” in the nineteenth century that made people struggle to remember things, so they needed something to material to “emulate” or represent their memories. “Memory-Keeping thereby became a business…” (370). Despite the fact that diaries then became “mainstream” or a way to make business, it was not just a superfluous item where you could only record your daily basis activities, “Memory had to be housed outside the mind…” (370), people recorded important part of their life in it. Clothing can be mnemonic materials as well, as shown by Janette’s diary. Her mother had died, and her mother believed that her quilts could tell her story, guard her memory. The way women dressed in the nineteenth century meant something, weather it was their state of mind or even their personality. Photography, also used by Janette, was something one could store and create memory. I personally cannot relate to diaries or any other objects as mnemonic materials since I have never kept any of them. Maybe it is something cultural, since in my country Cape Verde it is not a habit to preserve things for so long or to write down our thoughts, but I can see the importance of mnemonic materials for they contain history and can therefore help us remember or discover important aspects of our own history.
Everyday use, by Alice Walker, explores and describes the relationship between parents and their children and the importance of family antique items. Alice writes about the way she and her two daughters behave and see each other. She hoped her relationship with one of her daughters, Dee, was different for the best, and apparently this was one of her deepest desires. The relationship between parents and their children appears to be always complicated but, usually over time, when they grow up, children will see and love their parents the way they should. Alice’s daughter Dee appeared to be ashamed of her mother, the way she looks (like a tomboy), and that may be the reason why she wanted to leave their house. Dee was greedy, she saw her family as being unworthy of her and seemed to look down on them. Dee wanted to succeed, and therefore married a rich man. She changed her name and was ashamed of her heritage. But when she came back to visit her mother she appeared to like and enjoy everything she hated about her family and the house she used to live. Now, the objects, such as the benches or clothes/quilts, were something she thought needed to be “preserved” for they had memory, a history behind them (even though she didn’t look at them that way before). She wanted to take some quilts with her, but her mother did not let her. Objects, such as the benches or quilts, all have memories they can trigger inside someone (memories that should be treasured), but Dee realized that a little too late.
I thought that this article “everyday use” by Alice Walker was pretty interesting. It was a really easy read in the way that it flowed. I think that this was the first writing piece that I have read for the class that I was able to read straight through without stopping for one reason or another. It was quite intriguing to me the way that this was written analyzing a mother’s relationship with each of her two daughters. I think that I got so caught up in this that I’m not sure if I got too caught up and misinterpreted parts of it. I felt like this revolved a lot around the house fire that had happened about ten years ago. To me this was the start of the major distances put between this family. This was when the daughter Maggie was badly burned. She is still carrying around many scars on her body from this day. Maggie is clearly uncomfortable when her sister Dee is around. It talks about her looking at her sister in a particular way with a combination of feelings.
It also appeared to me that Dee never really fit in with her family. I think that the mother and sister sort of resented her for that. Mother speaks as though she does not approve of Dee’s lifestyle. She thinks that Dee has these feelings like she is much better than them and much smarter. I think that this is a very common issue. Whenever there is a family member that is different than the rest of the family it is often times misunderstood. Sometimes a child will try very hard to fit in with their families beliefs and ways of life while other times a child will completely embrace their differences and be who they are regardless of what their family expects from them. I think that it is really sad when a family does not support a child with who they are and what they want to do. I understand that it can be scary for a parent to not understand their child’s choices in life but it does not meant they should not be supportive. In this way I do feel bad for Dee.
I remember Mama:
I did not find I remember Mama quite as fascinating and it was defiantly not as easy to read through. I like the idea of the woman memorializing her mother by the making of a quilt but I don’t think I enjoyed the follow through quite as much. I did enjoy the quote, “While these artifacts- the scrapbook and the diary- can represent the women’s subjugation and concession to hegemony, they also provide a portrait of the women’s active engagement and expertise with these particular materials for communication, memory-making, and identity construction.”
ENG 521 Cultural Rhetoric
HW # 9
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
While reading "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker I immediately noticed the parallelism of the two daughters, Dee and Maggie. One sister, Dee, took the opportunity to go to college, whereas, the other sister, the scarred Maggie remained home. Walker is highlighting the challenges women of the 1960s faced in becoming educated. In turn, Walker is also reminding her readers how image is important to society and a scarred female would have difficulty finding acceptance. Each message emphasizes key points to the audience demonstrating the difficulties of not only an African American female in the 60s but the societal unspoken rule over image.
I also found it interesting that Walker chose the educated Dee/Wangero to be embarrassed by her family. When Dee travels back home from the North, portraying an African American female; hair styled in an Afro, she is aware of the political rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement during the 60s. In contrast, Walker describes Dee as being educated, but then shows her to have little regard for her background and heritage. Since I have taught a lesson about this story, I feel it is also important to point out that during the 1960s African Americans wanted to “give up” the names “given by their parents” and embody their heritage by changing it to an African name. In the story, the mother seems to find difficulty in saying her daughter’s new name Wanegero and that of her boyfriend. The scene seems to highlight Walker’s negative feelings about African Americans changing their name to embody a history that was not theirs. In turn, the mother’s reaction to Dee not wanting to keep the name that was passed down to her by female relatives emphasizes Walker’s support of heritage.
The importance and value placed in heritage is shown through the ‘Everyday’ items of the quilt and the top. Just as in the article, “I remember Mamma: Material Rhetoric, Mneumonic Activity, and One Woman’s Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Quilt”, the quilt (and the top) represent past generations and holds its memories. In “Everyday Use” when the mom holds them she is symbolically connecting with all the hands that touched them in the past. Each item provides future generations with a tangible connection to the past. The items, the top and the quilt evolve from nothing, a chunk of wood and a scrap of cloth, into something of value to be passed on and used by future generations. I know when I use the quilt passed down from my grandmother that has passed on that I feel closer to her, a connection that remains even though she is gone.
Overall, Alice Walker is one of my favorite authors because she describes the role of an African American female in symbolic and imaginative ways. Walker does not just consider the culture of an African American, but the suffrage of women. For me, I always notice something new and enlightening when I read her work which illustrates the appreciation I feel when I read her writing.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.