How do Mama's feelings change toward Dee in "Everyday Use"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the story, mama dreams about having some dramatic reunion with Dee where Dee credits her mother with helping her to achieve her life's goals.  While mama is not oblivious to Dee's shortcomings, and mama understands her character, she still wishes that she were not an embarrassment to her daughter.  She knows that Dee didn't care for where mama raised her and her sister, Maggie, and Dee doesn't visit often (and never has brought her friends).  Mama wishes it were different, and she seems to really want to make Dee happy, giving her household items that are both of sentimental and daily value.  Not only are these items -- the churn top, the dasher, and so on -- objects that have been handmade by family members, but they are also things that mama and Maggie actually use.  However, when Dee tries to argue that she ought to have the quilts that have been promised to Maggie, quilts that she actually turned her nose up at a few years earlier, mama no longer privileges Dee's feelings.  She suddenly realizes how manipulative Dee has been and she refuses to give Dee what she wants, for probably the very first time.  She seems to see her daughters in a clearer light by the end of the story, and she is grateful for Maggie's presence instead of longing for Dee's.