Individuals who have experienced acculturation or assimilation knows extremely well how immensely difficult, confusing, lonely, misunderstood, trying, and even agonizing biculturalism is able to be. One is trapped between two cultures, feeling as though they belong to neither even if they have chosen an allegiance, constantly justifying who they are due to being misunderstood and having this entire situation agonize them. To complicate matters, many people who experience assimilation, is a victim to acculturation's harsh ways by shattering their identity by forcing a new cultural norm on them, and shunning their native identity intolerantly. In this way they are unable to live as they once did, and disconnects them from their culture and heritage. Thus, they are unable to remember, and relate to their ancestry, which means that their heritage which should be ingrained in to one's culture is now only just another fascinating foreign culture. An example in literature of such a character is Dee from Alice walker's fictional short story "Everyday Use," who comes home and finds her experience to be unpleasant, which is blamed entirely on her presence, words, and actions. Nothing is easy as Dee and her family were so unable to see each other's perspective, and there was no real hope of cohesion to the situation. Furthermore, the situation became a fault finding, blaming, and mutually unfriendly encounter. These arguments are not merely everyday conflicts that young people have with their parents over the usual dilemmas that young people face. According to Nadia Huq, Gabriela L. Stein, and Laura M. Gonzalez in there research when looking at conflicts "acculturation conflict accounted for unique variability even after accounting for general conflict, which suggests that content of conflict" (362) mattered and acculturation effects those arguments. It was the title foreshadows and lays out the entire dynamics between the vastly differing attitudes between Dee and her family. Many readers may see Dee as being the center of the issues at her home, but if one was to look more closely one would begin to realize how the fault should not be blamed on Dee. Acculturation changes Dee's world view, which many young people who go through the process of acculturation often experience. Dee thinks that she understands her heritage and values it, whilst her family only wastes it and this is shown through the differing views regarding objects, traditions, and life style between herself, and both Maggie, mama and perhaps even how she once use to perceive the world, which is drastically different.
Objects of everyday life is seen drastically differently by dee and her family. Her old reality is novel and a sacred treasure to keep. It was the only method in which she can remember what to Dee seems like a distant past, and also who her family were. According to Sylvia Xiaohua Chen,Dee and others who are in her same situation has "become absorbed into the dominant culture and lose identification with their culture of origin" (2). She has assimilated in to the dominant culture. Her African American roots has thus been forced out of her, and thus she needs objects to remind herself of her heritage. This may seem as if it's something that totally makes no sense to do, but there is a rationale for it. She suffered through such a transformation, In order to fit in. By doing this her culture was lost, because according to Betty Lee Sung, in many acculturated "individuals desire to be accepted and to be liked, he may want to throw off that which is second nature to him; This may cause anguish and pain not only to himself but also to his parents and family" 257). This is what has happened to Dee and the entire reason why she is so distant from her heritage. it was an effort to fit in and play the role of another educated person. Her first task when she arives home is to photograph her family along with the house, which she deemed as important to photograph. This was witnessed by Mama who stated, "she never takes a shot without making sure the house is included." (273). The house was most probably novel to her or the way her family lived. The house is somewhat awkwardly built and made probably by someone who wasn't altogether professional at building houses. One can gage the low-socioeconomics status of the family who dwell in this cheaply built home, because "there are no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides, like the portholes in a ship, but not round and not square, with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside" (272). In this fashion, the awkwardness was most probably wonderful to her, and seeming like an antique feel. She was fascinated and intrigued by her old culture, as if visiting a museum of her past culture and life. This was as if it was not part of her identity. However, Mama and Maggie thought it was merely a house, nothing more than that. Mama described the house as being "three rooms, just like the one that burned, except the roof is tin" (272). This wasn't anything special to them, just a home they could reside in and love. She was interested to learn everything, "even the fact that we still used the benches her daddy made for the table" (273). It was as if those benches were never part of her past, nor the fact she may have used to view them as everyday objects or even had a disdain for them. Yet, at the present moment, it was as if these things was the newest most in fashion objects in existence. Dee decidedly saw it as her place to take objects from the house because it was so precious and novel. Dee like most females have more emotions than their male counterparts, and through these types of feelings it causes immense acculturation conflict at home. According to Huq, Stein, and Gonzalez research shows "that females experienced more general conflict, more depressive symptoms, and a greater ethnic private regard than males" (380). So these feelings of it being something new and novel isn't quite abnormal. She wanted the entire churn because "I can use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table … and I'll think of something artistic to do with the dasher" (274). The churn was an everyday ordinary object, which is reflected by the title "everyday use", however, dee saw it as a museum piece that one should preserve and display artistically. On the other hand, Mama and Maggie saw it as a churn you used daily and as nothing especially special, thus the inspiration for the title. The churn was something they used in order to process butter, but it had been in their family for so long and made by their family, that it was something they were emotionally invested in. The churn was worn as "you didn't even have to look close to see where hands pushing the dasher up and down to make butter had left a kind of sink in the wood" (274). The churn was a family treasure but nothing to keep in a display and there was nothing so awe inspiring about it in the eyes of Dee's family. Mama and Maggie saw dee as not seeing reality as it is. Maggie and Mama especially recognized and saw just how fragmented and broken Dee was, and how acculturation had ruined Dee's entire worldview. This is Unhealthy because it often effects one self-esteem. Thus according to Huq, Stein, and Gonzalez "A positive ethnic identity is integral because positive ethnic-racial affect is related to more favorable psychosocial adjustment" (382). If Dee was less Fragmented she could grow psychologically stronger in both cultures and mature as a diverse person and be happier for it. Another point of contention were the two quilts that were made from "scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago" (274), was wanted by both Dee and her family. Dee saw it as a ancestral artifact, fit for showcasing and dee wished to "'hang them'" (275). To Dee, Old precious artifacts are not to be everyday objects, because they were to be treasured, and this was not possible if they existed as everyday objects. Too her, such handmade artifacts of a past generation were priceless and no one not even Maggie were to use them as everyday objects. This dee points out would not preserve this valuable object, but on the contrary, "'in five years they'd be in rags'" (275, which was horrifying to her. This was entirely too common, and Dee was not comfortable with this, because one would not be savoring ones heritage. By using ancestral artifacts as everyday objects one would be devaluing such objects and destroying them, thus erasing traces of ones own heritage. Dee wants to become closer to her heritage, and by preserving the ancestral artifacts, this will bring her closer to her roots. According To Huq, Stein, and Gonzalez Dee is doing this because that's all she perceives that she has, because "their multiplicative effect may be particularly harmful in the development of ethnic identity as adolescents may feel like outsiders both in their home and school environments and may be conflicted about their own ethnicity" 379). Dee sees this as the only thing she has, the need to grab at heritage items and hold on tightly to them, she feels as if she fits in to neither very different cultures. That she is a stranger to both cultures. According to Mirella L. Stroink and richard N. Lalonde the fact that dee sees the two cultures as so different is the entire reason of her weak association, because "the greater the contrast in bicultural participants, perceptions of their cultures, the weaker their identification with both" (59).However, Mama and Maggie does not agree with Dee and thinks that the quilts should be used, because if you only save them you'd be wasting the objects which were past down. According to Mama, "'I been saving 'em for long enough with nobody using 'em'" (274). In her opinion she has them tucked away for quite a long time to preserve them for her children to use to be able to remember their heritage while they utilize them. The way to remember the traditions was to use the objects past down and to continue doing the things they were doing. According to Huq, Stein, and Gonzalez, in their disagreement of objects alone, acculturation was responsible for a "more negative parenting, worse parent-adolescent relationships,and lower family cohesion when compared with other types of conflict" (378). This negativity not only upset Mama and made Maggie respond negatively but was not healthy for Dee either. A lack of a warm environment, which was never said outright but according to the hints that were given one can infer such, also was hazardous to Dee, because according to Huq, Stein, and Gonzalez a "positive family functioning, including familial support, parental warmth, autonomy granting, and family cohesion, has also been associated with stronger ethnic identity in ethnic minority adolescents" (379). And, this was not what Dee had received thus further fragmenting the family. As Dee has always somewhat seemed opposed to her family, and her family opposed to Dee. The disagreement was not just concerning objects in the house, that was merely part of the issues that was ongoing at home.
Dee and her family disagreed how to view and contend with their heritage, and this is not unusual amongst young people who experience acculturation. Dee saw her family and heritage to be old fashioned and ancient. She was influenced by the educated culture, while her family was not. Dee saw it from her own individualistic point of view and not from a collectivistic point of view, thus focusing her energies on how she must assimilate in to their culture in order to be accepted. According to Chen, in order for Dee to have a healthier outlook is to take on "a collectivistic mindset activates assimilation and connection, resulting in a focus on multiplicity and integration" (7). Thus, she saw her identity as separate from their identity and furthermore that their identity was only her heritage. in a sense, her family was a part of the heritage, rather than part of her life and her current identity. Before Dee left for school, to her she was trapped within the heritage and had a disdain for it. Her reality was "old-fashioned, out of style" (275). In her mind she did not live the way she desired, but rather lived in the heritage, which was too antiquated to her. To Dee, you were not supposed to live as if you were part of the heritage, rather that heritage was where you came from, and you encapsulate that in a display and you value and treasure it. When she went back to visit her home, her view that the notions and objects they had there remained old fashion, but due to sufficient space and a more fulfilled identity she was able to value them, not as fashionable but as heritage items and notions that could be treasured and kept. When Dee says, "'You just don't understand'" (275), this is precisely what she means. This is the position that some researchers believe to be unhealthy, because According to Chen "perceiving their orientations to the two cultures as compatible and integrated is beneficial to their mental health" (3). This is because if one was to keep the notions of the two cultures separate this would create conflict amongst themselves and others. The very thing, which is seen here with Dee. On the other side, Maggie and Mama views their heritage from a completely different point of view. In their eyes, their life needed to be intertwined with their history and heritage. The objects was used to remember their relatives who were no longer with them. The way they kept alive the memory of Maggie's and Dee's grandmother was to use the quilts made by the grandmother. Maggie stated since Dee wanted the blankets "'I can 'member grandma Dee without the quilts'" (275), but the best way to keep the heritage and understand it was through having the quilt and using it. The way to commemorate their heritage was to be a part of it. According to Sung, some collectivist based societies has this notion that "like bricks in a wall, one lends support to the other" (266). To Mama and Maggie their heritage was of utmost importance. This is because they were a brick in that wall that they were part of and is supporting. Mama understood her heritage and kept it alive by naming dee "'after your aunt Dicie" (273). Thus, Mama used and treasured the name of her sister, which was a name long past down throughout many generations of their family. Naming Dee, this name, kept it alive in the family, and enabled it to be past down through more future generations. Also, Mama and Maggie used the churn not to waste it, but precisely because they actually fully understood their heritage. This further helpped them to pass down family heirlooms and to remember Mama's sister, Big Dee. This churn provoked those memories because this churn was made from "beautiful light yellow wood, from a tree that grew in the yard where Big Dee and Stash had lived" (274). Everytime they would process butter they would value and remember their heritage. Dee didn't see the notion of a heritage the same way because in the western and more educated culture, the society is much less restrictive, loose, and more freeing as according to Sung, "Loose family ties, superficial human relationships, little community control, and weak traditions have given the individual leeway to strike out on his own without being hindered by sentimentality, convention, and tradition" (266). Dee saw heritage this way, and it was something to value but not quite something to live by and take in to account in one's own life and method of doing things. There was much more than traditions and how to deal with everyday objects, in the entire scope of the conflict.
The disagreement also extended to the realms of lifestyle choices and values one should embody and adopt. Dee agrees with the western lifestyle, which favors affluence and education, in which one lives with some class and dignity. Dee views the entire lifestyle of her family as backwards and antiquated. Furthermore, her family needs to make more of an effort to be more like the dominant culture, which is better. However according to Dee, "'from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it'" (275). She deems her family too primitive and desires to convince her sister to better her life. Dee thought there were too many limitations on their life. In the western more educated culture, it is heavily based on individualism, and according to individualism as Sung noted in her research "the individual constantly tells himself and others that he controls his own destiny and that he does not need help from others" (266). In This sort of environment, there isn't quite as many restrictions. According to Sung An "individual-centered person enjoins himself to find means of fulfilling his own desires and ambitions" (266). Dee No longer sees it this way as according to Chen "assimilation into the receiving culture is more functional than biculturalism in a monocultural context and in a receiving society where perceived threat from non-dominant groups evolves into adverse reactions" (8). However Mama and Maggie feels that their life they live is sufficient and deems that the life dee lives is strange, and a bit too disingenuous. Maggie feels extremely "nervous until after her sister goes" (271), and Mama is sympathetic to this view. Maggie is like Mama, and Mama, sees herself mirrored in Maggie. In a sense, Maggie resembles Mama and is growing up much the same way she was. They both feel that Dee is the instigator of conflict when she is present. They don't feel comfortable amongst Dee's notions and ideals, and feel that Dee is actually forcing said ideals and notions upon them. They neglect to consider that Dee has been changed through peers hostile to the environment which Dee was raised in. They disapprove of her because according to Sung, "They do not see the dilemma as rising from cultural differences" (268). Thus Dee was forced to adopt their ways and completely abandon her heritage. Mama imagines alternative family scenarios, because this situation is uncomfortable for her. She dreams that dee and her would get along, and that dee would not be as condescending as she is. The scenario is that they are both "on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes" (271), which is never going to happen. She's as unhappy about the current family situation as much as Dee is and wishes that they could only have a cohesive family. Dee feels conflicted as well and certainly wants peace as well. Dee is not alone, according to Huq, Stein, and Gonzales others like dee feels the same way and furthermore, the "greater acculturation conflict with one's parents may lead to greater depressive symptoms as an adolescent may feel that sh/he is violating a cultural norm and disappointing the family" (382). Dee's fragmentation effects her self-esteem, which makes her want to quarrel harder with her family to try to resolve it. Someone with high self esteem does not feel like they have to prove a point and convince others that their view is better. She feels conflicted by the larger society and the nitch that her family lives amongst. Dee wishes for harmony too but her acculturation conflict and the resistance of her family to yield is not allowing for this. She tries to be kind to her family and loves them how she can, because she "turned to Maggie, kissed her, and said, 'you ought to try to make something of yourself, too Maggie.'" (275). She said this out of peace and love, Dee wants the best for her younger sister. She also didn't like arguing, and in a sense, wanted to make up for it. She did not really want to cause a scene, and it may have been unpleasant for her as well. This was her attempt to bridge the breach that had come about from her visit, and leave in a harmonious spirit. She wanted to love and get along with her family and wished to leave on good terms. She also wishes no ill upon her mother. Dee had decided to change her name to Wangero lee-Wanika Kemanjo. Her mother did not feel comfortable with that name, firstly because she named dee, and secondly it was so strange and unpronouncable to her. So, knowing this, Dee decided that it was alright and said to her mother, "you don't have to call me by it if you don't want to" (273). Dee is trying to be understanding of her mother, and seeing that her mother wasn't receptive, Dee decided it would be more peaceful if they just called her dee. Dee, doesn't want to make a big issue out of it. Not only are Mama And Maggie content with their living situation they are in fact resistant to the educated, more white ways of life. She was fearful of white menfolk, because "it seems to me I have talked to them always with one foot raised in flight, with my head turned in whichever way is farthest from them" (271). They seemed better than her, and most probably the amount of discrimination that she has encountered, along with the condescension. She did not trust, like, feel comfortable, nor want to associate with their ways. Dee's want to force them in to that type of lifestyle was immensely daunting and entirely undesired. The notion of education is one that they disagree on. Dee views education as a good, as a need. She reads to her family attempting to influence and sway them, and in hopes to educate them. She works hard to make them understand the knowledge, to understand the importance and the joy to know that knowledge. She "pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to move us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand" (272). She was desperate to help them, just needed them to understand and to be receptive. She knew that knowledge was the ticket to a better life. She was the only one to go to college thus far. Mama and Magie however wasn't impressed, and even felt that it was unwanted, because according to Mama Dee was "washing us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn't necessarily need to know" (272). She had not much of an education and wasn't fond of it, as she didn't go through much schooling herself. Not being educated and living a simple life was acceptable even the way of life to Mama, as she could "work outside all day,breaking ice to get water for washing" (271). However, Dee wasn't fond of this notion, and thought exactly this was the backwards type of lifestyle. The disagreement also extended to what one should take pride in. Dee in wealth and fashion. she was dressed well even when she came to visit her family with her bracelets on and also "Earrings, too, gold and hanging down to her shoulders" (272). An attempt to look nice and to present herself to her family. This is what she took time to present. She also took pride in reading and education. She had had dates in grade school and "she read to them" (272). This was her type of values and what she took pride in, a world apart from her family. Mama took pride in quite the opposite, which was her house, and her field work. She values the house and takes pride in sitting inn the yard, it's satisfactory to her. She takes pride in the yard because, when the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the hedges lined with tiny, irregular grooves anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house" (270). She takes pride in how comfortable to the soul her yard is and how fulfilling it is to her. She loves her house and her yard, which dee thinks is backwards. She doesn't merely live where she does, she fully enjoyes also takes pride in her field work. She enjoys hunting and recounts an episode by informing her audience "one winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledge hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall" (271). She clearly takes pride in this activity and enjoys her hunting and preparing the meats. It gives her pleasure. Dee who likes education is of course judging this always as primitive. Also there was a conflict in terms of dress and styles. Dee was always in fashion, and knew what fashion was. She was always aware and wanted it such as "a yellow organdy dress to wear to her graduation from high school;black pumps to match a green suit she'd made from an old suit" (272). The attire she desired was fancy and not what her family wanted. Mama and Maggie wore simple outfits, which is why Mama deemed it fancy. In contrast Mama dresses simply, "I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls during the day" (271), which is nothing fancy at all. Considering that they lived in the country near farmland this is typical, so something in style and normal for the city is a bit too fancy. Also, Mama has no money, as most of her money goes to dee's education. While shes annoyed with Dee's ways, she stil wants her to do well. . This is the reason why she imagines "those tv shows where the child who has 'made it' is confronted,as a surprise, by her own mother and father" ((271). She is immensely proud of Dee and how much she is able to achieve. She is not entirely certain of how to react to the new Dee. These are the wide ranging issues which neither party can agree upon, which is causing a great deal of conflict.
The conflicts that are inherent with individuals who have been acculturated and their families are demonstrated in Everyday use through Dee and her visit back home. The lack of cohesion in the visit back home, the lack of agreement in viewpoints, purpose of everyday objects, and notions of traditional objects between Dee and her family is evident, highlighting conflicts and differences due to Dee going away and being educated. This story clearly shows how going away for schooling and being integrated in to a different society, acculturated, and educated may change someone and their entire world view. Dee's transformation and conflict with her family is common amongst acculturated individuals. The conflict is not particularly a fault of either the acculturated individual nor of their family, and neither party can be blamed for causing conflict. This conflict is due to a conflicting and drastically different world view. The depressing truth here is neither party is at fault and due to this, the somewhat depressing reality is that one must learn to cope with it. these differences are here to stay, and blaming each other for their differing viewpoints, fault finding, and arguing that the other party is the root of all your issues is rather false and may even make the situation worse, or merely seems like a futile argument.