What do you think is the importance of the TV-show dream in the story "Everyday Use"? How does it help us understand the relationship between the narraror and Dee?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early on in the story, Mama says:

On TV mother and child embrace and smile into each other's faces. Sometimes the mother and father weep, the child wraps them in her arms and leans across the table to tell how she would not have made it without their help. I have seen these programs.  Sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort. 

It seems that Mama is not really used to being the object of her daughter's positive attention.  She is not used to smiles and hugs from Dee.  The fact that the daughter in her TV-show fantasy smiles at her parents and hugs them tightly, telling them how vital they have been to her success, makes it seem fairly clear that this is not how Dee and Mama relate to one another, despite the fact that Mama's hard work coupled with the generosity of the church apparently paid "to send [Dee] away to school."  Mama's wish that she might emerge from a "dark and soft-seated limousine" to embrace her daughter is coupled with the wish that her daughter would pin a large orchid on her dress, even though Dee once said that orchids were tacky.  Mama wishes she were somewhat different, but she wishes Dee were a bit different too.  Mama says that Dee used to "read to [them] without pity" and "burned [them] with a lot of knowledge [they] did not necessarily need to know."  In Mama's fantasy reunion on television, they are both a little closer to what the other would seemingly want.

mattbuckley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The TV-show dream in this story happens at the beginning to show the reader the nature of the relationship between the narrator and her daughter, Dee. The narrator talks of the "TV shows where the child who has 'made it'  is confronted, as a surprise, by her mother." This informs the audience about the nature of these types of shows. They are a chance for often estranged family members to reconcile their differences, apologize and give thanks to each other.

The fact that the narrator dreams of meeting her daughter on one of these shows tells the reader a great deal about their relationship. This shows the reader that the narrator has a very complex relationship with her daughter. It also shows that the narrator feels that her daughter has achieved success in the world but she, the mother, feels as if she has not been acknowledged in the achievement of this success. The narrator tells us what she is like "in real life", but then tells us what she is like in the dream. She is "the way my daughter would want me to be".  This indicates a sense of inadequacy felt by the mother and a sense of shame felt by Dee for her mother, always wishing she was something that she was not.