HERITAGE Heritage is an important role in a person s life. It defines who we are and what we are to become. Many people are proud to belong to a certain group or nationality. There are some days where these groups express their heritage and culture through activities such as parades and carnivals. There are some people who choose to live out their heritage and those who try to discover their heritage. In Alice Walker s story, Everyday Use, a daughter s quest to find her heritage leads her to return to her home that she had. In Auror Morale s poem, Child of the Americas, the narrator appears to have realized her Heritage and describes it. Morale and Walker both approached Heritage in a unique and perspective way giving interesting things to think about. In Everyday Use, a daughter returns home to retrieve part of her heritage. In the process of trying to define who she is, the daughter named Dee, changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. Also, in this process, it can be assumed that Dee has taken on the Islamic religion by her appearance. Dee wore a long dress, which went from the neck down to her ankles. According to the Islamic religion, women are not allowed to show most of their body. Another reason why Dee appears to have taken on the Islamic faith is because of her husband uses the word, Asalamulakim (Walker 75). Asalamulakim is the customary Islamic Arabic way of saying greetings. One of the hints, which gave the impression that Hakim-A-Barber, Dee s husband was in fact her husband, was because he said, Asalamulakim, my mother and sister (Walker 75). This shows that Hakim-A-Barber may have seen Dee s family as his own.Because African-Americans were originally from Africa, where Islam is one of the major religions, Dee may have tried to become part of that heritage by accepting the Islamic faith. As the story progresses, Dee s mother finds out that Dee wanted to have some old quilts which her grand mother had knitted. After finding out that her mother had already promised to give the quilts to Dee s sister, Maggie, Dee becomes furious. She felt that Maggie would put them to everyday use (Walker 77). From this line, it seems that Dee wants to reclaim the quilts only because it will help her define her heritage. But in actuality, Dee sees the quilts as her heritage where she can hang them up any day. Heritage is not something that can be put up one day and just be admired at. Heritage is something that must be lived to be a part of. Alice Walker s use of the quilt as heritage becomes symbolic. Maggie and her mother were living out their heritage while Dee wanted to make her heritage something tangible.
Morales poem, Child of the Americas, was narrated in a first person s view. The narrator is a child of the Americas. By this, Auror Morale includes North America and South America because the narrator is associated in some way with both continents. The narrator then discusses what cultures she is part of. She is Caribena (Morale 1032), meaning that she is a Caribbean woman. She is of Latin American origin (Morale 1032). As the poem progresses, the narrator begins to say what she is not. She says, I am not african. African is in me, but I cannot return (Morale 1032). Latin Americans originally migrated from Africa to the Americas. However, since she has no emotional attachment with Africa, she cannot return there and be treated as an African. In line 16, she says, I am not taina. Taino is in me, but there is no way back (Morale 1032). By this line, the narrator means that she is not an Indian tribe that was native to Puerto Rico, but she is still part of them. Unfortunately, it is not possible for her to become part of the Indian tribe. Line 17 goes on to say that she is not european. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there (Morale 1032). According to Spanish Europeans, those who migrated to the Americas are no longer considered Europeans. The narrator is of European decent, but there is no place for her to become accepted as a European. She would only be seen as a foreigner to a new land. Child of the Americas discusses a woman s realization of her heritage and culture. She is proud of her heritage, which can be shown by the last line in the poem, and I am whole (Morale 1032). It is important to realize where we are from through our Heritage. A person s heritage will define who he or she is and will become. Heritage is almost like a defining personality. Unfortunately, some people can go through life, without caring what their heritage is or was. Others, like Dee from Everyday Use, tried to find themselves spiritually in search to becoming whole. Yet, there are some individuals, such as the narrator from Child of the Americas, who have sought out their heritage and have finally become spiritually whole.