What does her intended goal for the objects tell us about Wangero's possible motivations in "Everyday Use"?

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tmcquade eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wangero's intended goal for the quilts and other objects - to "hang them" - seems to show that her biggest concern is putting on a display for others.  She wants to show that she is a "New Negro" (as they were termed during the Harlem Renaissance) in her concern for her heritage - reclaiming her African past - and she does this by letting others see her African pride through outward displays and appearances.  She has changed her name, her style of dress, and her mannerisms, and now she also wants to decorate her home in a way that shows off her heritage.

Since Wangero has no real connections to her past, having chosen to leave behind her family and home when she left for school and being glad to do so, she can only display her "heritage" through objects on the walls.  She hasn't learned how to quilt, and she doesn't have a lot of personal memories or stories of her grandmother or other family members, so she wants these quilts and other objects to create a rich facade of her past.

Her mother and Maggie both recognize the emptiness in this.  To them, the objects don't just remind them of their race: they remind them of their loved ones.  Maggie remembers it was Henry, aka. "Stash," who whittled the "dasher" - Wangero just knows she wants it for her table.  She also wants the quilts, made from pieces of her grandmother's old dresses, though they had previously been promised to Maggie.

Eventually, Maggie, "like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her," offers to let Wangero take the quilts, saying she has other ways to remember her grandmother.  But in a moment of great insight and love for her faithful daughter, the mother says no and take the quilts away from Wangero.  She hugs Maggie tight to her, and in doing so brings a true smile to her face.