They symbolize the family’s history and represent memories they have of their grandma. The symbol of the quilts creates the central conflict in the story. The way each daughter treats the quilt reveals her feelings about her family’s history. Dee sees the quilts as something she can show off, hang on the wall and forget the meaning of. Maggie has been promised the quilts, but does not think that they are worth fighting for because she knows she can remember her grandma without them.
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 was trying to show her boyfriend that she likes traditional clothes, but she is not a big fan of that type of clothes. Dee even changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo and she thinks that name is more like an African name and by that name she can show how important is her culture to her. Her mother asked, “what happened to ‘Dee’?” (walker 397). Dee says she does not want to live on other people terms, how will always judge her. Dee was named after her aunt Dicie and Dee wanted a name that was more from like the civil war era.
Dee does not respect the old world and chooses to make herself an outcast. “Everyday Use” focuses on the legacy of this family. The quilt itself is a piece of their heritage and history. It is like a documented history with her great grandmothers dress, her grandfather’s shirt, etc. The quilt shows the family as who they are it shows how they have lived.
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.
This connection among generations remains strong until Mama’s older daughter Dee came to visit, after being away for some time. Dee’s arrival and lack of understanding of her history creates conflict, after she interrupts the true meaning of the family inheritance for her own desires. When Maggie suggests the quilt be given to her older sister, Mama began to see Maggie in a different light. Walker uses Maggie and Dee to suggest heritage holds deep significance. Dee and Maggie are as different as hot and cold, but unlike Maggie, Dee has a much more superficial idea of heritage.
In Alice Walker’s Short story “Everyday Use” a mother is conflicted between her two daughters and the families quilt. Maggie is uneducated and financial unstable, and Dee is a well-educated woman that’s embarrassed of her family. Each believing they are entitled to family inheritance. The story characterize heritage and how heritage is portaged differently between the two sister. The main characters in this story, "Mama" and Maggie are on one side, and Dee on the other, each have opposing views on the value and worth of the various items in their lives, this conflict makes the point that the substance of an object is more important than style.
They symbol of the quilt in the story is a sisterhood, empowerment, and nature, something that Dee has failed to realize (Martin, 2104). Dee is looking for her family’s heritage and it has been there. The family heirlooms are the true tokens of their origin. Mama finally realizes that she and Maggie have embraced their true heritage through quilting and tells Dee that she cannot have them because Maggie will take it when she gets married. The situational irony in the story at the end, Dee proclaims that Mama and Maggie have no knowledge of their heritage, but it is Dee who does not understand her
In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use” an object becomes the cause of conflict between Maggie and her sister Dee. The object of conflict between these two polar opposite sisters is a handmade quilt passed down from their ancestors. They both associate the quilt with their heritage but it is obvious their views on heritage are quite different. Dee, the older daughter, represents a misconception of heritage as material while to Maggie heritage is both knowledge and form which is passed down from one generation to another through learning and experiences. Mama and Maggie symbolize the connection between generations and the heritage that passed between them.