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Family Legacies Essay

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Updated: May 28th, 2021

It could be hardly doubted that family is one of the immensely influential sources that shape an individual’s social, cultural, and psychological attitude. Moreover, it is possible to claim that family’s role in developing one’s beliefs is of primary importance. It is could also be stated that the concept under discussion was one of the most important social institutions in almost every society throughout the history. However, it should be noted that the notion of family and its core characteristics undergoes significant changes in the modern world. The question of translation the family traditions and cultural legacies appears to be vastly relevant in the contemporary society. This paper aims to address several issues related to the modern family, incorporating the examples from the reading book along with the personal opinion and experience, and also the question of self-identity will be explored to retrieve a meaningful conclusion on the subject matter.


It is possible to start the essay with the discussion of the short poem by Adrienne Rich, written in 1989. This work appears to be a suitable starting point for the exploration of the subject under consideration since “Delta” represents a significantly interesting and poetic metaphor of family. However, additional detail should be mentioned beforehand: the very first line of the poem, which is “If you have taken this rubble for my past” represents another very moving metaphor, upon which the rest of the composition is built (Rich 400). In my opinion, “rubble” here stands here for some people’s misinterpretation of family history as only something useless and dead, like a tombstone’s material. Further, Rich argues that the experience of previous generations flows into the current generation as “a delta springing from the riverbed” (400). Considering this metaphor, it is possible to move on to the next section.

Everyday Use”

The following two paragraphs will discuss the short story by Alice Walker, written in 1973. The story represents the interaction between three primary characters: Maggie and Dee, two sisters, and their mother, whose name is not mentioned. First of all, it should be noted that sisters represent two different approaches to treating family heritage, and the mother’s character serves as the connecting point between these two methods. When family members are described, it is possible to observe that Maggie and Dee are opposites of each other since Maggie is less demanding and more humble (also, her appearance was damaged in the fire) while Dee is beautiful, ambitious girl, who is praised by other people (Walker 381).

Further, the central problem, represented in the story, should be discussed. It should be noted that the primary metaphor which is used in Walker’s work is the old quilts, made by previous generations of the family. The core conflict of the composition is that Dee wants to take these quilts to her new house to hang them on the wall, while Maggie would use them in their routine application for the household (Walker 385). Metaphorically, this contradiction represents two approaches to treating family heritage. For Dee, her family past is something that should be treated as an exhibit, which should resemble the legacy of the previous generation. On the contrary, Maggie perceives her family heritage as her own living experience, which makes her predecessors’ life relevant to the contemporary world. The author gives no easy answer or solution to this problem. It is possible to state that both approaches have their advantages, but Maggie’s approach, in my opinion, is a more reasonable way of inheriting the family’s cultural traditions.

People In Me”

The third literary item under consideration is the short essay by Robin D. G. Kelley, written in 2003. His work is comprising the explanation of his family’s diverse racial and cultural background as well as the discussion of a more broad topic related to issue of cultural diversity. Kelley provides several examples of his family members, each of them facing the problem of racial misinterpretation and confusion. Perhaps, the most outstanding example is Kelley’s mother, who does not fit in the widespread stereotype of “black momma”: she does not drink, smoke, or curse; she is a vegetarian, she plays the harmonium, and she speaks softly (Kelley 419). The other members of the author’s family also find it hard to fit into the stereotypes.

On the grander scale, Kelley suggests the question about the influence and contribution of cultural and racial diversity to Western civilization. He argues that so-called “black culture” is, in fact, a mixture of numerous cultures and races from across the world, including Jamaicans, Indians, Mexican Americans and many others (Kelley 420). Kelley states that this culture is continuously changing throughout the history and to this day it is not established entirely (and possibly will never be). He concludes that, as a whole, Western civilization comprises cultural heritage and contribution from all mentioned nations. Therefore, Kelley suggests that it is more important to cooperate and live in mutual respect than to investigate one’s racial and cultural background.

Personal Opinion

Finally, it is possible to discuss my personal opinion on the subject matter. The question of family’s cultural legacies’ contribution to one’s self-identity is of particular importance in the modern world. First of all, it should be mentioned that, in my family, blood relatives could be traced no further than three generations. However, it does not mean that no previous experience is inherited. The popular cliché of “keeping the family name alive” did not precisely outlived its validity; rather the meaning of that phrase has slightly changed. In previous centuries, the family name was a question of significant importance, and every person strived to continue his or her bloodline alive due to high mortality. However, in the modern world, keeping one’s family name alive is more of a representation of one’s family traditions and values. In my opinion, it is not necessary to know every generation of one’s relatives, but it is more important to embrace family’s background as a part of one’s self-identity.


In conclusion, it is possible to observe that family’s influence on the development of an individual’s social, psychological, and cultural attitudes is still high to the vast extent. In this paper, three literary items were analyzed to retrieve some observations, concerning different aspects of the issue under discussion. Additionally, my personal opinion was also included in the paper, providing another overview of the subject matter.

Works Cited

Kelley, Robin D. G. “The People in Me.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument, edited by James, Missy et al., 6th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 418-420.

Rich, Adrienne. “Delta.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument, edited by James, Missy et al., 6th ed., Pearson, 2016, p. 400.

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument, edited by James, Missy et al., 6th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 379-386.

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1. IvyPanda. "Family Legacies." May 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/family-legacies/.


IvyPanda. "Family Legacies." May 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/family-legacies/.


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