She says she will hang them on her wall, and states that if her sister Maggie got them “she’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use” (Walker 162). Dee is shocked when Mama tells her she cannot have the quilts. What Dee does not understand is what the quilts symbolize. The quilts were sown from her Grandmother’s old clothes and stitched by hand. They symbolize the family’s history and represent memories they have of their grandma.
Miss Johnson asked Dee, “What would you do with them?” Dee said, “Hang them. As if that was the only thing you could do with the quilts” (Walker 456). In contrast, Maggie and her mother kept the quilts in a safe place, because they understood the significant role the quilts played in their Harris 2 family’s heritage. with this in mind, Maggie and Miss Johnson wanted the story behind the quilts to be remembered and told, in the course of everyday use. Professor Florett Barnett Cash studied and discussed in his journal the importance of African American culture through quilts.
The Themes and Narration Techniques of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker, was first published in 1973. The story opens as Maggie and her mother, a black farm woman, await a visit from Maggie's older sister, Dee, and a man who may be her husband--her mother is not sure whether they are actually married. Dee, who was always scornful of her family's way of life, has gone to college and now seems almost as distant as a film star. Maggie, who is not bright and who bears severe burn scars from a house fire many years before, is even more intimidated by her glamorous sibling. The central theme of the story concerns the way in which an individual--Dee--understands her present life in relation to the traditions of her people and culture, while the thematic richness of "Everyday Use" is made possible by the flexible, perceptive voice of the first-person narrator--Dee's mother.
The quilt shows the family as who they are it shows how they have lived. Quilting is a form of art. It is a craft that was passed down from generation to generation for over a century. Much like “In Search of our Mother’s Garden” this story shows the struggle that Mama and Maggie had suffered through but still had the strength to stay together and pass down something that was meaningful. If “In Search of our Mother’s Garden” was a theoretical statement of Alice Walker’s beliefs “Everyday Use” is the story embodies everything that she stated.
Even though Mama describes herself as a person that lacks education and knowledge she honors her heritage in her own way. This is exposed to the reader when Mama questions Dee why changed her name to “Wangero” and explains to her the significance of her name “You know as well as me that you was named after your aunt Dicie” (Walker 98). This shows that Mama values her heritage by naming her daughter Dee, a name that has been passed down by her ancestors. Throughout the story Mama tells the reader the significance behind the value of each object. For example she explains to her daughter Dee the meaning behind the quilts she wants to take with her.
The mother explains, “I could have carried it back before the Civil Way through the branches” (464) Dee could not understand the cultural significance of her name, the very same name that came from her loved ones and not by her oppressors. She fails to appreciate the cultural significance of the name Dee. Dee wants to appreciate her family quilts by framing them in her home, but Maggie would most likely put them to everyday use and have them in order to remember her Grandmother ... ... middle of paper ... ...monstrate how little she cares for her family culture by displaying her family quilts as decor, changing her family name, and with her new identity, she has completely left her family culture. The mother can understand Dee’s viewpoint, but that is the reason she cannot grant Dee those quilts. When Maggie displays her affection about the quilts and is willing to part with them, her mother understands that she is more deserving of the family quilts.
The quilts were pieced together by Mama, Grandma Dee, and Big Dee symbolizing a long line of relatives. The quilts made from scraps of dresses worn by Grandma Dee, Grandpa Jarrell’s Paisley shirts, and Great Grandpa Ezra’s Civil War uniform represented the family heritage and values, and had been promised to Mama to Maggie when she married. However, Dee does not understand the love put into the making of the quilts, neither does she understand the significance of the quilts as part of her family heritage. It is evident she does not understand the significance of the quilt, having been offered one when went away to college declaring them “as old-fashioned” and “out of style”. She does not care about the value of the quilts to her family, rather she sees it as a work of art, valuable as an African heritage but not as a family heirloom.
Dee sees heritage as the quilt on the wall or chute top on the alcove. She knows these items are handmade but does not know the history behind them. Dee wants to simply display her heritage without truly remembering it. Her home will be nothing more than a museum of African artifacts. Mama and Maggie, on the other hand, know the importance of keeping the memories of their ancestors alive by the everyday use of the things passed down or left behind.
As you can see, I strongly agree with the narrator of the story and her choice in giving Maggie the quilts. Dee (Wangero) has been given enough in her life. She has beauty, confidence and her education. Maggie has wonderful qualities too, but has been through hardships. All which make her more deserving of the family quilts.
Wangero is some that just started liking her family heritage and things sence she just came into her family heritage that she should get anything that she wants from her mom. In David Cowart essay Heritage and Deracination in Walker 's “Everyday Use” he says, “Only by remaining in touch with a proximate history and immediate cultural reality can one lay claim to the quilts.” which is saying that Maggie does not stay in touch with her history or cultural even through she is there with her mom everyday(Cowart 171-72). When Wangero comes back with her boyfriend, she acts like she 's better than them because she found her heritage and she lost what is important to them the mother-daughter relationship. In another source it say “Dee obviously holds a central place in Mama’s world,” so her central place is the reason why all the stuff that she wants she gets especially things that hold heritage value(Susan Farrell 180). The mother-daughter bond that she shares with Wangero is much more special and that bond with her mom should mean more to her then the quilts or anything else with any type of history