The theme of Everyday Use is not immediately apparent, although Alice Walker begins the story by creating a familiar setting in the comfort of home that lead to the spirit of heritage and its importance in our lives. The protagonist, a single mother of two daughters, sees herself as ."..large...rough... slow-witted" and not fitting into the social strata of her oldest daughter, Dee, who ."..has held life always in the palm of her hand." The story begins with the mother preparing the yard to be ."..more comfortable than most people know....like an extended living room" for Dee's homecoming. This line early in the story also shows the mother placing a high value on comfort.
The mother describes her younger daughter, Maggie, as ."..not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passed her by," and ."..perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him...That's the way my Maggie walks." The reader already feels the older daughter Dee, although ."..stylish...with nicer hair and a fuller figure...and full of knowledge" is more like the careless person rich enough to own a car. Although Maggie and her mother make attempts to improve the appearance of themselves and their home for Dee's arrival and seem eager to see her, having no relation to Dee the reader is given no reason to like her. Already Walker is placing value on "slow, self-conscious," Maggie, who plans on marrying and staying close to home, and casting, Dee, who is attractive and cosmopolitan, and could conceivably bring greater resources to her sister and mother, in a negative light.
When Dee arrives home with her new husband (in their car) "in a dress so loud it hurts my ...
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...ran down to the soles of my feet. Just like when I'm in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and shout." Indicating the mother's sense of God's pleasure with her new way of thinking. She takes the quilts from Wangero and gives them to Maggie. Wangero prepares to leave with her husband and tells Maggie and her mother "You just don't understand...your heritage," which is ironic because it is a heritage Wangero wants to eliminate in all ways that do not serve her immediate purpose. This mother clung to her heritage, preserving it for the daughter who appreciated the history, and at the risk of alienating the other daughter. Maggie and her mother "watched the car dust settle" as Dee sped off. Then ."..the two of us sat there just enjoying, until it was time to go in the house and go to bed." It would be fitting if they were wrapped in a quilt.
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