In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use", what are four ways in which Dee and Maggie are similar and/or different? How do these relate to the theme?

Expert Answers
lesleyguilmart eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Similarities: childhood poverty / marginalization as black girls in the south, trauma of house burning down, rich family history of black women's craftsmanship...

Differences: one is beautiful, the other scarred (by the fire); one is college-educated and living in the city, the other at home with mother and uneducated; one values her ancestors' crafts as "art" pieces to be displayed for status, the other values them for "everyday use"; one believes she is "liberated" because of her education and big-city ways, the other is unpretensious and humble.  The one who claims she is most in touch with her blackness in fact scorns her own humble roots and flaunts her supposed superiority to her mother and sister. 

The theme is complex and touches on a number of issues: Is education without humility and appreciation for our roots as liberating as we think?  Should black folks take more pride in their history as North Americans (which they know more about and with which they have more direct experience) or in their African roots (which are far removed through generations and cultural repression)?  Can a person be ignorant even with a fancy education?  Can a person be wise without a fancy degree?