What different uses would Maggie and Dee have for the quilts?

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Maggie and Dee have a very different idea of what heritage is and how it should be remembered. For example, Dee was named after her aunt, who was named after Dee's grandmother, who was named after her mother, and so on. However, rather than honor her name as a family name, as something that connects her to this recent history of strong women, Dee chooses to rename herself something that has no connection to her family because it seems to recall a more long-ago history. Further, Dee insists on taking artifacts from her mother's house, items that Mama and Maggie still use daily, so that she can do "something artistic" with them, even making one into a "centerpiece." Maggie knows the stories behind all of these items, and she knows how to use them for their intended purposes. Dee simply wants to display them as evidence of some history to which she isn't really emotionally connected.

It's the same thing with the quilts. Dee cannot understand why Mama would give them to Maggie when, as Dee says, "'Maggie can't appreciate [them]. . . . She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.'" Dee wants to hang the quilts on her wall, to display them as evidence of some heritage that is in the past, that is dead. Maggie, however, knows how to quilt and would use the quilts for the reason for which they were created: to keep warm. For Maggie, heritage is something present, something living, something that she keeps alive every day in her use of these items and by learning how to quilt in the tradition that her mother and grandmother used. Dee, on the other hand, simply wants to display these items, including the quilts, in order to show off.

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The two sisters were raised together by their mother in a humble home in the countryside. Maggie stayed home with the mother while her sister proceeded to college. Dee had always been scornful of their way of life back in the countryside. She returned home with a Muslim man whom she introduced as her boyfriend. Her mother and sister noticed that she had changed. Dee was more sophisticated and seemingly in touch with her African culture. She had changed her name to a more Africanized version to confirm her new identity.

She showed interest in traditionally hand-woven quilts done by her grandmother but promised to Maggie. Dee wanted the quilts so she could display them in her house because she viewed them as cultural symbols not to be used but preserved. She believed that Maggie was unable to understand their significance and would put them to everyday use in her matrimonial home.

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