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Near the end of Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," Mama bequeaths the quilts to Maggie:
"The tuth is," I said, "I promised to give them quilts to Maggie, for when she marries John Thomas."
In denial, Dee responds:
She gasped like a bee had stung her.
"Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" she said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use."
Dee, the materialist, wants only to collect and display her culture, not to put it to everyday use. Knowing this, Mama passes the bedding on to her more grateful daughter Maggie, crowning her the next family matriarch.
You see, quilts are a living memory of the Johnson family. Rather than throw away old dresses, patches were saved and recycled into bedding. This feminine self-sufficient practice not only honors the past generations--dating back to the slaves--but it gives purpose to the practical, domestic work of women.
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