What is the short story "Everyday Use" about?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Everyday Use" is a short story about the relationship between a mother and her two daughters, Dee and Maggie. Dee has become involved in the movement of black people getting back to their roots. Dee even changes her name to Wangero. She doesn't think her mother or sister respect their heritage. Dee goes through her mother's house, grabbing different pieces of furniture or kitchen utensils, the ones that were handmade by her ancestors. Dee especially wants the quilts that her mother is saving for Maggie when she gets married. Dee wants to hang them on the wall as art.

Maggie and her mother are more like the other women in their families. They are hard working and tough women. Maggie has stayed at home with her mother, while Dee has gone off to school. Dee has more experiences by going away to school. She thinks her mother and sister are stuck in the past and that her sister could do so much more with her life. Maggie is happy at home and their mother is happy, as well. She agrees to give some of the possessions to Dee, but she refuses to give the quilts to her. At the end, Dee storms off with very sophisticated sunglasses on and Maggie and the mother laugh about it. Their mother gives the quilts to Maggie for everyday use, not artwork.

In this story we can see the struggle that Dee is facing. She is trying to honor her heritage, but she is not around her family. Dee wants to have all the African American things she considers art, but her mother and Maggie keep the things that they use all the time. Both sisters are living true to what they believe and who are we to determine which one is right?