Everyday Use Questions and Answers
by Alice Walker

Everyday Use book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In "Everyday Use," what are Maggie and Dee's different attitudes toward heritage, and what do quilts symbolize in the story?

In "Everyday Use," Dee views the quilts as vintage art pieces which display her family's past. In contrast, Maggie genuinely appreciates the quilts and views them as living objects, which represent her family's rich heritage. The quilts symbolically represent their family's complex heritage and are traditional items that celebrate their legacy.

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,189 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," Dee is portrayed as a supercilious, progressive woman who outwardly embraces her African heritage and is severely critical of Mama and Maggie's rural lifestyle. When Dee returns to Mama's home, she has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo to dissociate herself from the former slave masters who named her ancestors. However, Dee fails to recognize that the family name functions as their identity and has been passed down through generations. Dee also desires to use Mama's family heirlooms as artistic display pieces and views the traditional quilts as priceless artifacts. Her affection for the quilts is not genuine and her perception of her family's history is significantly skewed. She views her heritage as a dead past, which is distant and nostalgic.

Unlike her sister, Dee, Maggie is a timid, unattractive woman who is not educated or ambitious. However, Maggie possesses a solid understanding of her family history and recognizes that her...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,041 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write7,214 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

tmcquade eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write127 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial