Power of Preconceived Notions in "Everyday Use" and "Recitatif"

Preconceived notions lead to trouble most of the time. People often allow themselves to fall victim to preconceived notions rather than to consider things and arrive at their own conclusions. Two stories that illustrate how preconceived notions can lead to trouble are "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker and "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison. Each story reflects upon how society perceives certain things about race. In "every day Use," Walker uses two very different sisters to inspire a life-changing epiphany with the mother. Walker also proves that racial differences may be limits imposed by society but they can also be self-imposed by individuals that lack confidence. In "Recitatif," Morrison uses conventional ideas toward race and forces readers to come to conclusions by examining their own beliefs. She does not allow us the privilege of knowing what race Roberta and Twyla are and this forces us to fall back on what we have learned in our own experiences. More often than not, preconceived ideas about race are not accurate and they are also so subtle that we often miss them in the business of life.

In "Everyday Use," Dee and Maggie could not be any different from one another. Dee is bright and motivated. She is confident to a point that even her mothers finds puzzling. She pursues a life that is much different from the one Maggie and her mother share. In fact, she leaves the two of them behind as she goes to college to pursue an education. Dee appears to be the more successful of the two girls. She has goals and has every intention of reaching them. Her goals include separating herself from her heritage and one significant thing she does is change her name to "Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo" (Walker). She explains the change is the result of her not wanting to be "named after the people who oppress me" (Walker). This changes seems at odds with the change of leaving ones heritage to chase after a better life because she wants "nice things" (Walker). Maggie, on the other hand, is the character we pity. She is compared to a "lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person" (Walker). Maggie is "not bright" (Walker) but she turns out to be more authentic than her smart, worldly sister is. Maggie, the lame sister, turns out to be the more practical person. She also turns out to be the most compassionate. She would have appreciated the quilts far more than Dee and when her mother realizes this, she is astounded at who turns out to be the most authentic person. Maggie was not ashamed of her race not her heritage with her mothers. Dee, on the other hand, wanted the mystical heritage thousands of miles away in Africa -- a place she had never been. It was not real to her and she was feigning her love for culture. She speaks of a new day and criticizes her mother and sister for not embracing it but what she fails to see is that she is running faster from her race than her mother or her sister ever could. She wants to recreate her race and embellish it with hanging quilts and African names but all she is actually doing is covering up who she is and from where she has come.

In "Recitatif," readers areā€¦