The Quilt In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Bailey Gowans P. Patterson English 102-03 25 September 2013 The Quilt In “Everyday Use” Alice Walker uses symbolism and point of view to highlight the conflict of the story and emphasize personal traits of each character. In the story, the main character, who is referred to as “Mama”, describes her two daughters, Maggie and Dee, and settles a conflict between the three of them over who will get family quilts. The family quilts that cause the conflict in this story are made of “pieces of dresses Grandma used to wear” (Walker 162). Dee, the daughter who has “held life in the palm of one hand” and “’no’ is a word the world never learned to say to her” (Walker 157), is the daughter that asked for the quilts. 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. 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. Mama finally stands up to Dee, and tells her that she promised Maggie the quilts so she could not have them. The story is told in first person point of view through the eyes of Mama.... ... middle of paper ... ...acters through Mama so that each daughter is portrayed in an accurate way. Using the symbol of the quilts deepens the characterization of the daughters because it shows how each character feels about her family and it’s history. Dee is characterized as a shallow person who will go with any trend that comes about while Maggie comes across as a reserved and quiet girl. Maggie shows more depth as a character because she feels she doesn’t need to ‘hold on’ to the quilts to hold on to her family’s history. Maggie values memories while Dee values material items. Overall, with the help of symbolism and point of view, the reader forms their own opinion regarding the conflict of who gets the quilts. Work Cited Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature and the Writing Process Compact Edition. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan et al. Boston: Pearson/Longman, 2010. 157-163. Print.
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