Heritage and Identity in Two Short Stories: Everyday Use and A Pair of Tickets

Categories: Personal Identity

Finding ones truth identity and learning the value of your heritage takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Life is a long path that we all have to confront and deal with everyday. Throughout our lives there will always be something new to learn, to appreciate, or to be thankful for; every stage of life represents a different level of maturity, however, sometimes it takes more than just time, in order to understand where you are coming from and to appreciate the struggle your ancestor went through.

Appreciating one's culture creates and strengthens bonds with others who share that culture and also allows one to identify and appreciate cultural difference. As shown by Alice Walker's in “Everyday Use” heritage represent who you are, the importance of the history behind you, and the value of family. On the other hand, Amy Tan's "A Pair of Tickets” contrast the importance of heritage, which could be found by traveling to another place.

In "Everyday Use", Alice walker tells the story of a mother and her two daughters conflicting ideas about their identities and ancestry.

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She personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Dee, Maggie and the Mother, each with its different qualities and philosophies in life. Even though if put together, the three of them complement each other and could be possible form only one character. Maggie and her mother they both respect their heritage because they carry it inside of them. However, the perception that Dee has about heritage is not based on her ancestry, but based on fashion and materialistic objects.

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The narrator is a mother who has struggle throughout her entire life to give the best to her family. She has worked hard, (“In real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough hands, man working hands,") to sent Dee to school and get an education, perhaps, something she never had. However, instead of being thankful to her mother, the character of Dee uses her knowledge to feel superior and make her sister and mother feel lower than her. Maggie is the opposite of Dee; she is shy, soft spoken and shares many similarly with her mother, including the appreciation for her ancestry and heritage. When Dee comes back from college the readers can confirm how beautiful and fashionable she is, but also the ignorance and prepotency within her. Walker uses the changed of Dee's name to “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo" to symbolize her rejection towards her culture.

The author only tells the readers the story behind Dee's name. Maggie's and her mother's name does not change at all, showing with this that their name, just like their ancestry are part of history, something that does not need adaptation. Two hand stitched quilts are the center of conflict in the story. These quilts were made by Dee's aunts and grand-mother. Her mother has saved them because they have an important value to her; however, Dee wants them because they are fashionable and somehow represent "a part of her,” but for the first time her mother decided to say no and give them to Maggie. "Maggie can't appreciate these quilts! She said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use;" ironically she tells her mother “You just will not understand. The point is these quilts, these quilts,” When the one that does not understand the value of them is her. Maggie knows what the real value behind the quilts is; so therefore, she does not need them to be able to remember her grand mother and aunt. Their history lives inside of her and her most valuable heritage is the memories and her family.

In "A Pair of Ticket's" Amy Tan's tells the readers the conflicting ideas between a mother and her daughter misconception of heritage. The narrator and protagonist May June struggles discovering her self-identity. May June is a Chinese American student that ey to china to meet her twins half-sisters, a couple of months after her mom past away. As the story moves along she learns more about her mother's struggles and dreams. She also discovers that what she knew about china was nothing but stereotypes and prejudices created by the American culture.

At the beginning of the story, May June did not understand the meaning behind her mother's words, “once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese,” it is not until she travels to china that she begins to get the concept of what being Chinese feels like. As soon as she enters china she sees herself "transforming like a werewolf, a mutant tag of DNA suddenly triggered, replicating itself insidiously into a syndrome,” however, she fully discovered her self-identity when she meets her half sisters, “And now I see what part of me is Chinese. It is so obvious. It is my family. It is in our blood. After all these years, it can finally be let go.”

The value of family in this particular story is very important. As soon as May June and her father arrived to Chinese, her aunt and family were there waiting for them; she also discover her identity through her family. After sharing with them, she noticed that after all they were very similar to the way she was. The moral of the story is that at times it is necessary to travel to the past to understand the present. May June have to go to china in order for her to understand her mother's dreams and therefore discover who she is. The value of heritage is not something that can be teach or learn; it is something that you are born with it.

Amy Tan's particular way of writing makes the readers to emotionally connect with the story. She describes the scenarios and places she's at with so many details that it makes you feel as if you were traveling with her. The scenario plays an important role throughout the story. Despite the fact that the story keeps moving back and forth, jumping from past to present, she makes it very clear when she makes this transitions or scenarios. The Key point of the story occurred in china, as soon as she gets off the airplane. The use of color and seasons within the story plays an important role and somehow explains the mood of the character as the story continues.

These stories share many things in common. In "A Pair of Tickets" the narrator is traveling to china to meet her stepsister and discover her heritage. Unlike Dee which is the apposite, she travels to get away from her past. May June is a noble character and even though at the beginning she didn't truly understand the reality behind her mothers words, throughout the story one can see the change that occurred within her. Dee is a selfish character and even though there's nothing wrong with wanting better things in your life, there's always way to get it without putting others down. In both stories the used of symbolism and imagery help the readers to engaged more with the story. In conclusion Finding ones truth identity and learning the value of your heritage takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Your family plays an important role in discovering who you are, but it is up to you to open your heart, be open-minded, and not get stuck with materialist things. Understanding the value of heritage and culture of a family is extremely important because that's your own history, the roots of where you came from.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Heritage and Identity in Two Short Stories: Everyday Use and A Pair of Tickets. (2021, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-importance-of-heritage-and-personal-identity-depicted-in-two-short-stories-alice-walker-s-everyday-use-and-amy-tan-s-a-pair-of-tickets-essay

Heritage and Identity in Two Short Stories: Everyday Use and A Pair of Tickets essay
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