Compare and contrast the relationships between the mother and each of her daughters, Dee and Maggie, in ''Everyday Use.''I'm having trouble finding similarities between the mother and each of the...

Compare and contrast the relationships between the mother and each of her daughters, Dee and Maggie, in ''Everyday Use.''

I'm having trouble finding similarities between the mother and each of the daughters.

Expert Answers
vanertc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are some basic similarities between the two mother-daughter relationships. Both daughters receive love and acceptance from their mother. She accepts the girls' very opposite lifestyles.  She understands the inner nature of each girl. Maggie has been so humbled by her burns and somewhat limited intelligence that she timidly accepts what life brings her, and her mother never faults her for this, never pushes her to want more.  Dee, having been gifted with more beauty and intelligence, has grown into a commanding young woman who expects to be admired and to receive her way as a natural right in life. Her mother also simply accepts that this is her older daughter's nature.

The differences between the girls' relationships with their mother are greater, however. Maggie benefits from a closer mother-daughter bond, largely due to her dependent nature.  She accepts her mother's simple lifestyle without judging, clearly living with her and providing help, companionship, and love to the older woman.  They fit seamlessly together and have developed a mutual loyalty that Dee couldn't begin to understand. When Dee complains that Maggie will "probably be backward enough to put [the quilts] to everyday use," her mother is insulted that Dee is so unaccepting of their ways. This is partly what propels her to finally stand up to Dee's selfishness.

While the mother does understand Dee, it doesn't mean that they have a close relationship.  She has looked at Dee as an outsider since the day their house burned and she saw the child look on almost in gladness; Dee hated the house. Dee's education only serves to distance them further, as Dee looks down on her illiterate mother. Dee barely hides her disdain for what she sees as her mother and sister's ignorance and choice of lifestyle. It is clear that she has only come to visit in order to take some items that, while dear to her mother and sister for their family history, have suddenly become fashionable in Dee's world. She covets the butter churn top and the quilts for their iconic imagery, and she'll likely just discard them when they are no longer in vogue. The mother sees this clearly, yet she would have let it go if not for the sad, accepting look she suddenly sees on Maggie's face, which helps her recognize what Dee has always done to the less fortunate daughter.  As Dee drives off without the quilts, which Maggie will indeed have for "everyday use," it is clear which daughter is more blessed when it comes to their mother-daughter bond.

amymc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both mother-daughter relationships begin in the same place - in a simple home in the rural South.  The mother clearly loves both daughters.  She protects and cares for the simpler Maggie, and she is proud of her successful daughter Dee and looks forward to her visit.

Additionally, she seems to want to be fair to both daughters, to treat them equally.  She accomodates Dee's name change and seems to accept her very different lifestyle and choice of partners.  She agrees to give Dee a butter churn so that she can turn it into decorative art.  Similarly, she protects Maggie's quilts from becoming wall hangings and denies Dee what she has already promised her other daughter.

The differences in the relationships come from the similarities between Maggie and her mother.  Maggie has remained in the home, following similar patterns of behavior and lifestyle whie Dee has gone of to school and moved away.  Maggie seems to respect the simple, rustic life that Dee has clearly abandoned.  Finally, Dee has been able to succeed on her own; she has strength and intelligence and beauty.  Maggie is not so lucky.  She has been disfigured in a fire, is not bright and has come to accept that she is a relatively luckless woman.  Mothers tend to protect these "weaker" children.

Read the study guide:
Everyday Use

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question