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In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," Dee's pride is a definite issue. In fact, Dee's pride is the reason that she initially leaves home, as well as the reason that she returns in order to take whatever she feels entitled to.
When Dee and Hakim-a-barber first arrive, Dee tells Mama that her name is now Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. When Mama wants to know why, Dee replies, "She's dead...I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me." This simple statement indicates that Dee does not appreciate the fact that her name has been a family name for many generations; instead, she interprets it only as a sign of oppression.
Later, Dee helps herself to the churn top and dasher, which are both family heirlooms, and which are still apparently used by her mother and sister, Maggie. When she asks for the quilts that are made of antique family clothing, such as a Civil War uniform, her mother tries to gently dissuade her from taking them by offering some others. Dee is unpleased with the suggestion, since the proffered quilts are "stitched around the borders by machine" and do not contain the materials that she considers precious. When Mama explains that the quilts have been promised to Maggie, Dee becomes irate.
"Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" she said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use...But they're priceless! Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they'd be in rags. Less than that!"
Not only does Dee show that she believes herself to be superior to her mother and Maggie, but she also seems to feel no remorse for having insulted her sister.
When Mama refuses to give in to Dee's demands, Dee again demonstrates her feeling of superiority over her family by suggesting that they do not understand their family's past and the changes taking place in the present as well as she does.
"You just don't understand...Your heritage...You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and mama still live you'd never know it."
Apparently, Dee never realizes that her speech is condescending and insulting.
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