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What does the quilt mean to Dee and Maggie in "Everyday Use?"

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debat | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 9, 2010 at 1:23 PM via web

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What does the quilt mean to Dee and Maggie in "Everyday Use?"

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Dee is the narrator's daughter in "Everyday Use." She has grown up and moved off to the city to live a new kind of life. She has turned her back on her family heritage and taken on an African-American name. She has no time or desire to connect to "her" people, those who have come before her and lived in the United States for generations, working hard and loving hard, in order that she might have the life she now has. To Dee, the quilt is nothing more than a piece of art: something that would look nice in her new place.

For Maggie, Dee's sister, life is very different. She has stayed at home. She has not experienced the same success Dee has. She is much more closely tied to her family, and is making plans to marry. Where Dee is attractive and larger than life, Maggie is quieter and plainer. She is a simple person, with down-to-earth expectations of life.

The quilt becomes a "bone of contention" when Dee insists that she should have it. At the same time, however, she does not want it because of the loving family hands that have toiled over it. She has no emotional connection to it at all. However, when the narrator hears her daughter Maggie speak of how much the piece means to her, it gives her pause.

Maggie wants the quilt, but says that Dee can have it if it means so much to her; Maggie explains that she does not need the quilt to bring her close to the hands that have worked so hard on it, specifically her grandmother. Her grandmother lives in her heart.

Hearing this, without hesitation, the narrator gives the quilt to Maggie because she wanted it for all the right reasons.

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