In "Everyday Use," does the mother's refusal to let Dee have the quilts indicate a permanent or temporary change? Why has she never done anything like it before? Why does she do it now? What...

In "Everyday Use," does the mother's refusal to let Dee have the quilts indicate a permanent or temporary change? Why has she never done anything like it before? Why does she do it now? What details in the story prepare for or foreshadow that refusal?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Everyday Use," Mama's refusal to let Dee have the quilts represents a permanent change in their relationship because Mama finally realizes that Dee does not hold the same cultural values that she and Maggie hold. Mama has never really told Dee "no" before, and Mama reckons that no one else has really told Dee "no" either. Dee has a strong personality, and she has always excelled in school, so Mama in a sense feels inferior to her daughter. As a result, Mama has always let Dee have her way. However, when Dee visits home after having been away for school, Mama finally gets the courage to tell Dee "no" because she recognizes Maggie's value. During the conversation regarding the butter churn and the dasher, Dee assumes that both pieces were whittled by her Uncle Buddy. However, Maggie reveals that the dasher was actually whittled by Stash, another uncle. Mama sees that Maggie is invested in the family's culture: Maggie is the one who remembers the contributions of the family. Mama has been leaning towards her recognition of Maggie, and when Dee broaches the subject of the quilts, Mama's refusal is foreshadowed by commotion from the kitchen:

"I heard something fall in the kitchen, and a minute later the kitchen door slammed."

The "fall" serves as a metaphor for the bad decision that would occur if Mama were to agree to give Dee the quilts, and the slamming kitchen door foreshadows Mama figuratively "slamming the door" on Dee's request for the quilts. By the end of the story, the rising dust from Dee's departing car suggests that this will likely be the last time Mama and Maggie see Dee, and Mama and Maggie sit together sharing their bond.