How does the narrator of the short story "Everyday Use" change throughout the story and what brings these changes about?

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cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The narrator of Alice Walker's short story, "Everyday Use," is the mother of two daughters, Maggie and Dee (a.k.a. Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo).  In the beginning of the story, Mama seems to primarily feel sadness for her Maggie, who is the youngest and is badly scarred from a house fire ten or twelve years ago.  By the end of the story, Mama's tone suggests that she feels pride, rather than sorrow, for her youngest child.

Throughout the course of the story, Dee returns to her family home and attempts to take possession of all of the family heirlooms she can find, even though she does not appreciate the true beauty of them.  Dee does not see the value of the labor and love that went into each piece; instead, she feels that she deserves to own them because she believes herself to be superior to her mother and little sister.

When Dee becomes angry at her mother for refusing to give her quilts that are promised to Maggie, Mama recognizes the ability of Maggie to produce something just as beautiful from her own handiwork.  Maggie does not intend to view the pieces as art, but as what they were intended, which is a mindset that pays true tribute to the integrity of the quilts and the history of their origins.

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