How is one of the following conflicts solved in "Everyday Use"?  1. Poverty as a child2. Dee's new life3. Fantasy and Reality4. Education

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clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

(First, let me remind you that you can only ask one question at a time, so your question has been edited to reflect this.)

In order to best present the resolution or solution, to a conflict, you must first define the conflict as fully as possible.  This list, in its current form, seems to present thematic ideas, more than conflicts.  In the example below, I will show you how to take the idea presented and describe the conflict within, which will help you define the resolution if one is presented in the text.  Let's look more closely at #1: Poverty as a child.

Definition of conflict: Mama, Dee, and Maggie are a poor family.  While they do not live in squalor or go hungry, they are far from the world's definition of wealthy.  When the two girls are young, a fire consumes their home.  Mama is a survivor, and appears to pick up the pieces of her family and continue on.  Maggie is left downtrodden as a result, and holds herself like a wounded animal.  Dee seems to react to the fire with satisfaction.  Her mother half-expects her to do a "dance around the ashes" because of how much she hated the house.  Here, "poverty" acts like a conflict in itself (a difficulty in life) and also seems to be a dividing line between Dee, and Maggie and Mama.  So, how do Mama, Maggie, and Dee resolve their personal situations in light of the poverty in which they live?  And, how is the division between Dee and her mother and sister resolved?

It seems that Maggie and Mama resolve the personal side of the poverty conflict by simply living with it.  The title "Everyday Use" suggests that they make the best of what they have, live with practicality, and make it through each day determined to survive, but not necessarily strive for happiness.  Mama demonstrates this through her daydream of the game show.  Her inner desire is not necessarily for more wealth or fancier things, but simply for acceptance and love from both of her daughters.  Maggie, by nature, simply moves on in the best way she can.  She continues to live with her Mama, and as meek character, clearly avoids further conflict and confrontation.  Her solution to the family's poverty and division is to support her mother and remain as unobtrusive as possible.

Dee, on the other hand, solves what she considers to be a very personal conflict by taking her life into her own hands, moving out, and moving up.  She finds fancy friends, wears fancy clothes, and does not seem to care about her lack of respect or connection to her mother and sister.  She masks her lack of respect for her family in an abundance of feigned respect and connection to her African heritage.  On her visit home, she is either unaware of or completely ignores her mother's desperation to be respected and loved by her oldest daughter.

The family division conflict does not appear to go resolved.  It could be suggested that these three characters are all similar to one another in that they each choose to avoid confrontation with one another, and when it does exist, do very little about it.  This is why the conflict of the quilt is such a victory for Mama and Maggie.  It is one example of the two of them standing up for something they want and believe in, and putting Dee in her place, if briefly, in order to get what they want.


ahoward0614's profile pic

ahoward0614 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I really don't think any of these conflicts are "solved". Dee's poverty in childhood has become a source of "street cred" for her, which is why she has brought her boyfriend back to meet her family and why she takes pictures and wants "souveniers". She wants to show these items to her new friends to prove something to them. These things are ornaments to her that never mattered until they became quaint and useful to her.

Maggie and her mother just accept these things as being part of their everday life. While Dee wants the butter churn and quilts as decoration, Maggie and her mother put them to "everyday use". These things are not ornamental to them. This is where the fantasy vs. reality part comes in. These things are reality to Maggie and the mother, part of some fantasy to Dee.


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