Walker gives Mamma a unique perspective of both of her daughters in "Everyday Use." Why does Momma make the best narrator? How would the story change if Dee or Maggie narrated instead?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the story "Everyday Use," Mama makes the best narrator because she is the most informed, most experienced, and the most perceptive of the three women. Mama is also the mediator between the two sisters, so without her the conflict would not be resolved. So, if the narrative were told by either of the sisters instead, the perspective would be one-sided, rather than objective as the mother's is, and the conflict would not be resolved.

In this story of the conflict between two definitions of the family's heritage, Dee, who has changed her name to Wangero, re-identifies herself with the Black Muslim movement. However, Mama is suspicious of her motives and finds Wangero's new persona an artificial one. 

"What happened to 'Dee?" I [Mama] wanted to know.
"She's dead," Wangero said. "I couldn't bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me."
"You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie...Dicie is my sister. She is named Dee."

Further, when Wangero wants some of the old items in the house, such as the butter churn and the hand-sewn quilt to display as artifacts, Mama again questions her motivation since she refused to take any of the quilts to college with her some years ago. Also, when Mama hears something fall in the kitchen and the door to this room slam, she understands the meaning of the noise. So, she tells Wangero, who has already taken possession of the quilts as though she is entitled to them, that she has promised these to Maggie.

"Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!...She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use."
"I reckon she would....I hope she will!" 

The mother remembers when Dee told her these quilts were "old-fashioned." So, realizing that Maggie is upset because she has slammed the kitchen door, she tells Dee to take one or two of the others and places the hand-sewn quilts in Maggie's lap. Then Dee accuses her mother of not understanding her heritage. But, in fact, it is the mother who does understand; she understands the significance of those things made by loved ones.