In "Everyday Use", do any of the characters change from the beginning to end of the story?  

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While none of the three women in "Everyday Use" change, as you say, from beginning to end, the mother reaches a realization near the end of the story, and, thus, she is the only character who may be termed dynamic. 

In this humorous story, Dee, who thinks she has gone back to her African roots by changing her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, arrives from at the home of her youth where she hopes to pick up heirlooms that she can put on display upon her return to the city where she now dwells.  She claims items in the house that she wants, even the quilts which Mama has promised to her meek sister, Maggie.  Having been conditioned to not get what she wants, Maggie acquiesces and tells Dee that she may have the quilts.  It is at this point that the mother finally sees the girls clearly.  For, she realizes that Maggie understands that heirlooms are meant to be used out of respect for them, and she will use the quilts.  Dee, on the other hand, will merely display them as artifacts.  As such, the quilts and all that Dee takes will be reduced to some museum piece without life and meaning. 

Quickly snatching the quilts from Dee, Mama hands them to Maggie.  Maggie, like her mother, sees history in their possessions.  She and her mother see the work of hands that belonged to family members, work that should stay alive with "everyday use."  Dee does not see this; to her history is merely in appearances.  Clearly, the desire of Dee to make the quilts mere items of appearance has given Mama an insight into Maggie, who has respect for the items which she has used all her life.  As a result, her maternal sympathies have changed toward Maggie, indicating also where Alice Walker's sympathies lie.

Miss Walker, who also suffered as injury as does Maggie, joined the Civil Rights Movement as does Dee.  But, Miss Walker staunchly defends the oral tradition of her people.  And, this story attests to this belief as the quilts must remain functional, not merely historical hangings.

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