The Impact of Heritage Essay

This essay has a total of 1066 words and 5 pages.

The Impact of Heritage



The Impact of Heritage

I believe the topic of heritage is always a difficult topic to approach in any discussion.
Heritage means so many different things to so many different people. This idea of one’s
heritage transcends all barriers, and it is possible to spend a lifetime, literally,
debating which individual’s heritage everyone should be obliged to follow. For some,
heritage serves as an omen for the future, a glimpse into what is to come as it is
continually passed down through their offspring. Everyone agrees that heritage withstands
the tests of time, important in present times as it was in the past. Alice Walker takes an
in-depth look at the principle of heritage in the African-American community and why the
belief is African-Americans value heritage more importantly than any other culture of
people.

The story revolves three central characters; all try to define their own definitions of
heritage, with each holding on to their beliefs as though they were the only treasures
worth saving in the world. It is inevitable that these beliefs will result in a conflict
within the family unit. In order to better understand where the conflict in the stories
lies, I believe an analysis of each character is required to better understand their
motives and actions in the story. Walker structures the story so that it makes the reader
believe that Dee’s perception of heritage is the most important because it is the most
volatile. Dee feels that the heritage forced upon her by white slave and sharecropper
owners through generations in her family will

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never be her own and she refuses to lay claim to it. In fact, within the story she becomes
the strongest advocate against it: “‘what happened to Dee?’…’She’s dead’…’I couldn’t bear
it any longer being named after the people who oppress me…’” (Diyanni Literature/ English
Textbook Pg. 411) Dee is also very intent on tracing her heritage back to her Afro-centric
roots: “…’No, Mama’… ‘Not Dee’, Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo…” (Pg. 411) However, as we began
to near the mantle of the story, we began to interpret Dee’s behavior as her way of slowly
relinquishing all ties to Mama and Maggie, and instead finding comfort in a man who
follows in the same spirit as she does, Asalamalakin.

Mama and Maggie share most perceptions of their heritages, which lead to only a few
differences. Both cling to the old pattern of their history and neither seeks to stray far
from it, and neither seems to take much interest in Dee’s new friend and his new ideas.
However, Maggie’s quietness throughout crucial points in the story makes the reader think
that either her mother or her older sister can easily persuade her to join their side of
the argument. I think Maggie’s definition of heritage varies between whether it is the
right belief at the right time and the right place. Mama, on the other hand, stands firm
behind her belief, all though not in a boisterous and rambling way, but she seems to know
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