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The mother of the story, while presented as a strong character, had always had a preference for her daughter Dee. Dee was smart, savvy, and pretty, while her sister Maggie was slow, awkward, and homely. The story opens with the mother, or narrator, fantasizing about being on a television show that would show her as the mother Dee wanted her to be and Dee's acceptance of her mother.
When Dee arrives with her current boyfriend in tow, the mother cannot help but be impressed with Dee's bright dress and new Afro hairdo. Yet, Dee comes off as superficial, interested in only what is currently popular--hence Dee's interest in the butter churn and and the quilt. The mother who has always favored Dee, though, decides to deny Dee the quilt and instead give the quilt to Maggie. This decision represents a first for the mother. She has said no to Dee and has chosen Maggie over Dee. It seems that with this choice, the mother comes to accept herself as she really is--not some fancy version of what Dee wants her to be--and truly appreciate the beautiful spirit of her other daughter, Maggie, who has a true sense of her heritage.
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