How important is the setting of "Everyday Use" to the plot?

The setting of "Everyday Life" is very important to the plot. By setting the story in the rural shack where Maggie and her mother live, readers can easily see how frivolous and high-handed Dee's attempt to appropriate their everyday items as "artifacts" is.

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I would argue that the setting of this short story is of the utmost importance, because it provides a clear illustration of the different life choices that have been made by Mama, Maggie, and Dee.

The setting is Mama and Maggie's home, which they used to share with Dee before...

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I would argue that the setting of this short story is of the utmost importance, because it provides a clear illustration of the different life choices that have been made by Mama, Maggie, and Dee.

The setting is Mama and Maggie's home, which they used to share with Dee before she left to attend college. The environment is described as homely and loved, but extremely basic. This provides a good illustration of Mama and Maggie's life, in which there is no extra money, but plenty of love and warmth are shared between the two.

The importance of the creation of this ambiance lies in the complete contrast that is seen in Dee. In contrast to her mother and sister, who are all about love and warmth, Dee is all about progress, nice clothing, and a better life. She makes her family feel like their home is a spectacle and something that might be laughed at when Dee and her partner return to their regular lives.

The story reaches its crescendo in a conflict about some quilts, which Dee firmly believes should not be put to "everyday use." For her, the quilts would be a cultural showpiece, whereas for Maggie, they would be used for daily warmth and comfort.

The setting of "Everyday Use" therefore sets up the conflict that is to follow.

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Setting is integral to the story. Dee and Maggie's mother, who tells the story, describes the setting of the small, rural home she and Maggie live in:

It is three rooms, just like the one that burned, except the roof is tin; they don't make shingle roofs any more. There are no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides, like the portholes in a ship, but not round and not square, with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside. This house is in a pasture, too, like the other one.

We can understand from this description that the narrator and Maggie are poor, living in the way Black sharecroppers have traditionally lived. For them, their home is an ordinary place filled with everyday things meant to be used in practical ways.

For the more sophisticated, college-educated, and now urbane Dee, this setting is a quaint artifact full of items to be appropriated not for use, but for display. Dee takes only the top of the butter churn, meaning she is not planning to use it to make butter but only to show it off as a status marker. She feels the same way about the handmade quilts she wants to take: she will hang them on the walls as an artistic decoration, calling them priceless. She wants to recontextualize and "other" these items.

The setting underscores the difference in attitude between Dee and Maggie and their mother towards the churn and the quilts, emphasizing the gulf between them. Maggie and the mother live simply and use the items they have handcrafted in practical ways. Against them and their simple shack, Dee can be seen as living a frivolous and pretentious life.

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The narrator references Johnny Carson, who went on the air in 1962, and because of the description of Dee's dress and accessories, the story seems to be set in the 1960s. Further, Augusta, where Dee was sent away to school, is a city in Georgia, in the American South. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white person in 1955, and the Civil Rights Act was finally passed in 1964; race relations were, therefore, an especially hot-button topic during this era. Many black people were starting to feel more pride and take greater interest in their ancestry, and movements to empower the black community were on the rise. This social context helps us to understand what Dee is going through and why she suddenly longs for the heirlooms that she once scorned. The setting helps, I think, to soften Walker's apparent criticism of her: she is attempting to reclaim something she feels she has lost, although she fails to realize that, in focusing on her racial heritage, she is overlooking the importance of her family heritage as well.

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The setting is very important to the plot.  It is central to the characters' ways of life.  Dee, the oldest daughter, has moved to the city, and is living a completely different life than her mother and her sister, Maggie.  Mama and Maggie live in a rural area and live in a humble home with only cutouts for windows in the home.  They have what they need to survive and not much more, but they are very happy with their lives.  Dee is also happy with her life, although it is very different from her mother's and sister's.  The story is also set during a time when a return to African roots was very important for African-American people.  There was political and social strife during this time period, as well, including the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement.  Without the collision of the two worlds, Dee's vs. Maggie's and her mother's, the story wouldn't be what it is.

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