How does knowing the text help you comment on the conflict and message of "Everyday Use?"

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Knowing the text in "Everyday Use" allows the reader to see the conflict and message in Walker's short story.

When we become intimately familiar with the text, the reader pays close attention to significant moments.  For example, when the narrator describes Maggie's reaction to Dee's arrival, knowing the text helps to reveal much:  "I hear Maggie suck in her breath. "Uhnnnh, " is what it sounds like. Like when you see the wriggling end of a snake just in front of your foot on the road. "Uhnnnh."  Maggie inhaling and making a sound of frustration is reflective of the conflict that exists between both sisters.  The conflict shows how each views reality in a different manner. Dee sees reality as one that benefits her, while Maggie sees her reality as almost secondary to her sister.  The text reveals this at the moment that Dee asks for the handmade quilts:  "I heard something fall in the kitchen, and a minute later the kitchen door slammed." This detail shows the dissonance between both sisters.  It helps to reflect the conflict between them both and how possession of the quilt will display it. Knowing the text brings this out and helps the reader understand more about the family dynamics.

Paying attention to the text also helps to illuminate the story's theme.  The collision between superficiality and authenticity is seen at different points in the text.  Examples of this would be the language that describes the yard as "more comfortable than most people know" and when Dee discrediting her sister when she says  "Maggie would put them [the quilts] on the bed and in five years they'd be in rags. Less than that!" Knowing the text and appreciating these moments help the reader recognize the story's thematic development.  

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