In 'Everyday Use', what characteristics does Dee possess that show how unethical modernity can be? 

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dee revels in her status as a modern, educated, emancipated African American woman. She has had opportunities to go out in the world and be educated, and she is eager for more. In fact she wants to have it all, and in this she goes too far.

Dee's graspingness is evident when she wants to take the quilts and other items from her family home, simply to show them off. She doesn't even consider leaving them for her sister; she is selfish. As a self-consciously modern woman she feels that all manner of opportunities and possessions are open to her, and it could be said that she represents a modern tendency to covet too much. In a word, she is greedy. Her mother notes that from an early age she 'wanted nice things', and that 'she was determined to stare down anyt disaster in her efforts'  - or, in other words, that she always meant to have her own way. It might not be a bad thing to want better things for herself, but she seems focussed on material possessions at the expense of her family.

Dee also displays a modern tendency to disregard and under-value the past - although ironically, she is not aware that she does this. Rather, she wants to flaunt her heritage by putting the quilts out on display as cultural trophies. But she is blind to the fact that these quilts are still part of a living culture. She is not aware of their true value as her mother and Maggie are. She is so caught up in the image of what she feels a modern African African woman should be like that she distorts the true value of her past, her family traditions.