What do the butter churn and the dasher symbolize for the narrator in "Everyday Use"?  

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For Mama Johnson, the narrator, the butter churn and the dasher remind her of her family, especially of those individuals who made them by hand.  These are items that feel essential to her and her daughter, Maggie's, life because they put them to nearly everyday use (as the title suggests).  For Mama and Maggie, heritage is something lived and used; it is something in the present.  Heritage is not something to display, something to set aside as in need of preserving because the way Mama and Maggie "preserve" their heritage is in the very using and appreciating of these family artifacts for the purpose for which they were intended. 

Dee, on the other hand, sees her family heritage (and the items associated with it, like the churn and dasher) as something to display, and she gives voice to her desire to have these items and others so that she can do "something artistic" with them.  Dee sees heritage as something in the past, not the present; for her, it is something to keep, something to have, but not something to honor by using it everyday.

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In "Everyday Use," Mrs. Johnson is the narrator of the story, and for her, the butter churn and the dasher are symbolic of her family's heritage.  Mrs. Johnson believes that family artifacts have been made for an everyday purpose and that the best way to honor the family is to use the items for the purpose for which they were intended.  In this way, future generations follow in the footsteps of their ancestors.  Mrs. Johnson's daughter Dee also believes that the butter churn and the dasher are objects that are symbolic of the family's heritage; however, she believes that the items should be put on display to preserve them.  So in the story, the butter churn and the dasher are symbolic of the family heritage, but the characters have varying views on how to best honor that family heritage.

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