How has Dee changed when she arrives to see her family in "Everyday Use"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dee changes by becoming more selfish and judgmental and not understanding her family’s values.

Dee has always “wanted nice things.”  She knew about style from a young age and was not afraid to express herself.  Instead of friends, she seems to have had followers in high school, but as soon as she gets old enough she leaves home.

Dee is judgmental about how her mother chooses to live, as if she had a choice but to live in the tiny house with the tin roof and holes where there should be windows.  She also does not even appreciate her name.  She goes by Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, saying she could not stand “being named after the people who oppress me.”  Her mother is shocked, because she was named after her mother’s sister.

The one thing Dee does take an interest in is the family heirloom quilts, but she completely misunderstands their role in the family.  She looks at them as cultural artifacts, works of art to be put on display.  When her mother says she is saving them for when her sister gets married, Dee is astonished.

"Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" she said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use."

Her mother tries to explain to her that the quilts are made to be used.  She tells Dee that if the quilts fall apart Maggie can make some more, because she knows how to quilt.  Dee does not.

The gap between Dee and her family has become a chasm.  She sees them as quaint and backward.  There is no respect, or even understanding.  She never felt like part of the family, and got away as soon as she could.  She became an outsider, allowing her to look at her family as curiosities and not have to admit she came from the same humble roots.

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