Jan 25, 2018 in Research


Tradition refers to handed down norms, customs, legends or beliefs. Traditions are passed down from one generation to another. This is done mainly through the word of mouth or observations. Traditions were there since time and memorial, and cannot end even if the universe modernizes. This is an inherited action or a long established way of thinking. Therefore, it is a characteristic or customary manner which continues from generation to generation. People are rejecting cultures which are primitive or do not make any sense in their mind. This is evident in the modern society especially as a result of education, civilization and urbanization. The consequences of rejecting cultural beliefs are harsh, and require inner motivation to keep the character pressing on.

In her book, ‘Every Day Use’, Alice Walker demonstrates how traditions mean to different characters. Dee and her mother share the same traditions, but each one considers them in a different way. According to Dee’s sister Maggie and her mother, traditions are so important in everyday use, and cannot be ignored. On the other hand, Dee considers them as optional beliefs which are useless in the modern world. Traditions change depending on an individual’s way of thinking. Education has greatly affected the way people value or disvalue traditions. There is no correct perspective regarding traditions. In fact, what one individual considers moral is what another individual considers to be morally wrong. Dee and Maggie are blood sisters with totally different perspectives regarding traditions. Dee ends up rejecting traditions and facing the bitter consequences of her actions (Walker 100). 

There exists great tension between tradition and education. The learned have a different perspective. They consider some traditions as harmful, useless and primitive. This is what makes Dee in ‘Every Day Use’ reject traditions. She cannot accept to be tied to these useless traditions after understanding the real meaning of life. However, her mother claims that Dee has betrayed her, as well as the society at large. Dee is rejected by her family. They cannot understand how she will move on with life without the traditions. Dee’s mother regrets educating her as this is the greatest shame in her life. Dee has failed to respect traditions which have been observed in the society from the beginning. It is unacceptable in this society. Therefore, Dee cannot be regarded as a member of the society any more. The education and civilization which Dee has cannot allow her practice these traditions. She stands firm and explains to her family her stand. She wears beautiful clothes and other ornaments which are not acceptable in the society. This is her way of life. She started this at sixteen, and she claims it is the real meaning of beauty. The society views this as immoral. Their traditions do not make Dee to change her perspectives.

Cultures and traditions are powerful. They require motivation and hard work to change. Careful efforts and persistence can eliminate harmful traditions. The pressure to change these cultures is usually viewed as ethnically imperialistic. This change is easily achieved if it originates within the entire society. Any other individual or group trying to change the traditions faces rejection from the society. Women groups, non-profit making organizations and human rights groups have been in the front line to try and change harmful traditions. They have faced negative responses in all societies. Some traditions are not only primitive but also dangerous. Female genital manipulation is practiced in traditional societies especially in Africa, Asia and India. Humanitarian assistance groups and individuals have done everything possible to see the end of this life threatening act. However, research shows that the act continues to prevail in the society as if nothing has been done to curb it. This is shows how hard it is to change traditions (Shaw 196).

Alice Walker details how Dee influences the traditions in her society. This is a hard decision which cost her time and bitterness from parents and sibling. Dee wants to change her traditional name to a new name which is not traditionally influenced. She cannot understand why her mother named her after hew relative. This relative oppresses her. She hates her with passion. This made her change her name from deer to Wangero. Her mother cannot bear her daughters behavior anymore. This is against the traditions. Babies are named after birth according to the traditions. It is by no means an individual could change a name which was given after a big ceremony. Dee does not see sense in this. Dee, who changed her name to Wangero understands how a name affects an individual. This is clear from her history and social classes. She is learned and can no longer carry a name which traumatizes her after remembering her relative’s oppressive acts.

In his book, ’Barn Burning’ William Faulkner portrays Sarty as a rebellious character who rejects traditions with a purpose. Sarty understands how much it will cost him to reject the traditions, but he presses on as he knows it is the right action to take. Sarty’s rebellion is established slowly by slowly. At the beginning, Sarty is too loyal to his father to an extent that he has to accept what the father does. However, there comes a time that Sarty can no longer compliance with the evil acts his father is doing in the name of traditions. The father barn’s his employer’s barn which is ethically and morally wrong. To add injury to the wound, Sarty is the one who is used as the escape goat (Ford 12). His father commands him to do this unethical action. This pains him too much. He makes up his mind to stop his father from barn-burning again.

Children have been subjects to their parents and other adults in the society for a long time.  It is not acceptable to question what the Parent or any other adult says. This has caused untold harm to the entire society. Some adults take this opportunity to mislead children while others oppress them.  This is what has led the international community to come up with children’s right. Children are human beings irrespective of their young age. They have rights of expression and freedom of speech. They have a right to make decisions in every situation. However, most societies have taken long to embrace this notion. Children are expected to obey their parents without questioning. Sarty understands that his father is doing wrong. He faces serious rejection and punishment from the father. This does not stop him from establishing his goal (Singh & Samara 150).

In conclusion, in every society there exist important cultural beliefs and traditions which are passed on from one generation to another. They are life-cycle switches which carry on family cohesion and convey family values and practices to succeeding generations. Traditions reflect behavior and norms based on social class, gender, life stage and age. Some traditions promote unity and social cohesion in the society while others erode psychological and physical integrity and health of individuals in the society. Factors such as information, education, civilization, urbanization and social groups try to influence changes in the society to eliminate harmful and useless traditions. This is regarded as rejection and rebelliousness by the members. It requires great motivation and hard work to maintain the spirit of rebelliousness against unworthy cultural behavior.


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