How would the story change if the narrator changed?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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If we suppose the narrator, Mrs. Johnson, were to change, the story would probably turn out differently. The main conflict in the story is between competing ways of life. Mrs. Johnson and Maggie prefer the quiet, country life in which they embrace their African-American roots. Dee is interested in modern American life but also in her African roots. If Mrs. Johnson changed and embraced modern living and her African heritage, she might have understood Dee's (Wangero's) outlook on life, but it seems unlikely that the narrator would embrace such an outlook as her own. 

It also seems unlikely that the narrator would do things such as use the butter churn or the quilt for decorative purposes. She is much too practical and would think that such ideas are a waste.

However, for the sake of argument, what if the narrator was more like Dee? Even though the narrator says she's not interested in ancestors that predate the Civil War, she is partially reacting to the way that Wangero and Hakim-a-barber are being condescending. So, it's possible that the narrator could change and become interested in her African heritage. It's hard to say if she would someday accept a more modern way of life. But if the narrator was different, within the context and time frame of the story, she might have given Dee the quilts she asked for. She and Maggie might have moved to a more urban or suburban area. This is all speculation.

Dee has a point that it is important to know one's older heritage but she is dismissive of her recent African-American heritage. She also objectifies it, intending to use it simply for show. The main example is that she wants to hang the quilts instead of using them. If the narrator changed (becoming more modern and aware of her African heritage), it seems unlikely that she would disgrace her closest ancestors the way that Dee does. It might be more plausible that, following such a change, the narrator would have a few modern appliances in her house. She may even send away for some African blankets. Thus, she would embrace modern things and African cultural items as long as they have an "everyday use." 

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