Homework Help

What are the basic conflicts in "Everyday Use"? What is the author's attitude toward...

user profile pic

parooo | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 29, 2007 at 10:55 AM via web

dislike 3 like

What are the basic conflicts in "Everyday Use"? What is the author's attitude toward each character? How is it conveyed?

6 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:17 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

The basic conflict in this story is Maggie's knowledge of every day things and her intention to use them for their purposes, and her sister (Dee), who considers herself more worldly and educated and who thinks these every day things should be hung up and admired as antiques.

Maggie is not stupid, but she is scarred from a housefire, and her confidence is lacking.  She is a humble, loving, and simple person who adores her mother and just wants to live.  She knows how to sew, quilt, and make butter like her mother and grandmother.

Her sister is lovely, has gone off to school, treats both Maggie and her mother as beneath her...almost embarrassing because of their simple and backward ways.  She is arrogant, not used to being told "no," and suddenly aware of her African roots as she indicates in her dress and her boyfriend who has adopted an African name than no one can pronounce.

Maggie is quiet and is used to giving in to her sister.  When her sister insists on the quilts that her mother has already promised to give Maggie as a wedding gift, Maggie slams the kitchen door to show her anger.  She does finally come back into the house resigned to give her sister her wedding quilts.  However, Mother finally stands up to Dee and tells her she can not take Maggie's quilts.

user profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 29, 2007 at 8:05 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Another way of phrasing that main conflict is to consider it in terms of identity, the ways in which our culture constructs it and we search for it.  In this way, the dominant internal conflict is the individual asking herself "who am I?" Within each of us different ideas of who we are compete with each other, and Walker would argue this is particularly true for black women. In an interview Walker says that she thinks Dee (a photographer and collector of art and even creates herself as a work of art), Maggie (the quilt maker, symbolic of traditional women's art), and mama, who narrates the story are all artists, and all represent herself split into 3 parts conflicting with each other.  For Walker as a writer, "Everyday Use" is the story of the conflicts within her to develop her own identity and become the writer that she is.


user profile pic

rivendell | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 10, 2007 at 9:25 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

I think the basic conflict in "Everyday Use" is based on the difference of values between Dee and Mama.  Mama rejects her elder daugher, Dee's superficial values; in contrast, Dee thinks her mother is too conservative and old-fashion.  Dee shows frivolous attitude toward their African culture while her mother shows great respect.

user profile pic

kimberelly | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted January 24, 2008 at 2:31 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

The conflict is in the different points of view regarding the value and importance of objects, specifically; preservation of heritage vs. every day use. Mrs. Johnson and Maggie have a different perspective on the value of household items than Dee does. For example, Dee believes that the quilts should be preserved and displayed as a symbol/representation of the family’s heritage while Mrs. Johnson and Maggie believe that the quilts are more useful for what they were made for: to make their bed, keep warm, and sleep with.

user profile pic

kawaipunahele | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 10, 2009 at 4:05 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

The basic conflict in this story is Maggie's knowledge of every day things

user profile pic

kailyn14 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 21, 2012 at 4:25 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

The basic conflict in this story can be viewed as a few diffferent things. It can depend on how you read the story. A person may say that a conflict is that of approval. Mama does not approve of the way Dee lives. Yet she is happy with her daughter Maggie. A conflict can also be as simple as which daughter should get the quilts.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes