Show the differences between the two sisters which compares both to the author herself? Give examples from the text. What is your opinion of the mother's final decision?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dee is a modern girl, while Maggie is a traditional girl. Dee gets an opportunity to pursue her higher education in the city, while Maggie stays at home with Mama. It is through education that Dee is exposed to modern sophistication. Dee has always been apprehensive of the traditional lifestyle, but when she shows up at the family homestead, she seems to have developed a strong interest in the family’s way of life. Dee is bold, but Maggie is extremely reserved. Maggie is a shy girl, and she often keeps to herself. Her personality is a a result of a scar she has on a face after she suffered from a fire accident that burned their house down when she was young.

Mama compares to Maggie in that she is comfortable with the traditional lifestyle. She also compares to Dee in that she is confident and refuses to be intimidated by her eldest daughter.

…hugged Maggie to me then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero's hands and dumped them into Maggie's lap. Maggie just sat there on my bed with her mouth open.

"Take one or two of the others," I said to Dee.

Her decision to bequeath Maggie with the family quilt emanates from the fact that she relates more to Maggie than Dee. Besides, it is Maggie who stays at home with her. Although Dee might preserve the heirloom, Maggie deserves to have it.

howesk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two sisters in "Everyday Use" are vastly different. Dee "Wangero" is a modern girl who has gotten an education, left home, explored her African roots, and come back home after the death of her grandmother. Maggie, on the other hand, is a simple girl who has lived at home with her mother happily, not really yearning for more outside of her life of small-town simplicity. Rather than exploring her African heritage, Maggie sees the importance of her own African American Southern heritage. Maggie is an unattractive girl, much like Alice Walker, the author, was disfigured in an accident as a child. She was quiet and shy, and focused on her writing. Walked is also similar to the character Dee, though, in that she went to college on scholarship and left her town. It is arguable which character draws more parallels to the author's life, but I personally believe that due to the message of the story, that family loyalty and value of one's personal heritage can be valued over academia in some cases, Walker must relate more to Maggie.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My opinion of Mama's decision is that it is absolutely the correct one. Dee has run roughshod over Mama and Maggie for many years. Even as a child, Mama says she "washed [them] in a river of make believe, burned [them] with a lot of knowledge [they] didn't necessarily need to know." Dee is selfish and self-centered, and she doesn't seem to care about the sacrifices her mother and sister have made for her. Mama offered Dee one of the very same quilts she now so badly wants when she left for college; Dee declined. 

Now, however, she's come back to lay claim to items the family uses day-to-day as artifacts of her heritage. Despite the fact that Mama has promised the quilts to Maggie, and despite the fact that Maggie knows the family stories and cares about its history, Dee demands them, insulting her sister at the same time. Dee doesn't deserve the quilts, and Maggie does. Mama finally accurately perceives her daughters.

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reader can see similarities in the lives of Walker and both daughters in the story.  Like Maggie, Alice Walker was disfigured as a child and was blinded in one eye.  Because of this, she withdrew from society much like Maggie does because of her burns.  Then there is Dee, the older sister who goes off to college and makes a new life for herself--away from the struggling lifestyle of living in a run-down shack in a racially segregated community. 

Of the two sisters, the more practical is Maggie.  She wants the heirloom to use every day for practical reasons.  Dee just wants it so she can show it off like art.  This makes Dee superficial and false while making Maggie appear realistic and genuine.  In the end, the mother makes the right choice.

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Everyday Use

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