What is a good conclusion for the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In addressing themes of heritage and culture, a conclusion could be made by showing how certain characters interpret those themes. Maggie and Mrs. Johnson appreciate their culture and heritage in a personal, intimate, and practical way. They appreciate the quilts because the family made them and because they were/are practical and useful. (Thus, Mrs. Johnson and Maggie appreciate their cultural/familial objects for the memory and their usefulness, for the personal/sentimental value and for the everyday use.) 

Dee/Wangero does note that she wants the quilts because they come from things Grandma stitched herself. So, she does have some sense of personal remembrance attributed to the quilts. However, she wants them to display in her home, to showcase her African heritage. She thinks their value is in this symbolic cultural significance whereas she thinks Maggie will just destroy them by using them every day. 

"But they're priceless!" she was saying now, furiously; for she has a temper. "Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they'd be in rags. Less than that!" 

It is not a bad thing that Dee/Wangero wants to get in touch with her African heritage. But in doing so, she is ignoring her more immediate family heritage. She also is a bit superficial in thinking that cultural heirlooms (heritage of Africa and/or her personal family history) are to be used for show/display rather than for the purpose they were intended: everyday use. For Dee, cultural is symbolic; again not necessarily a bad thing. But for Maggie and Mrs. Johnson, culture is symbolic while also being real lived experience. 

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